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2020 year-end trading schedule; Plus, boring Wednesday markets

Written By | Dec 23, 2020
2020 year-end trading schedule, Christmas, New Year's, Terry Ponick

Screen grab from Vimeo video clip of NYSE tree lighting ceremony, 2019. Fair use. See link below article.

WASHINGTON – The 2020 Christmas and New Year’s holidays are rushing in fast. Although patriotic Americans are not supposed to celebrate them in any way this year. Because WuFlu. But rain, shine, snow or gloom of night, capitalism continues on Wall Street, at least until January 20, 2021. So we’re posting our 2020 year-end trading schedule today for US and Canadian markets today, including Christmas and New Year’s long weekends.

Also Read: Santa Claus Rally 2020? Maybe it’s going to die somewhere in Pelosi-Land

In the meantime, take note. If you want to trade or take out some money to pay those inevitable Christmas bills, pay attention to the rest of the year’s settlement dates. Santa Claus Rally or not, the rest of this trading year will recede into weirdness and unpredictability. Ultimately, most year-end trading sessions typically do the same.

Wednesday market recap

Yesterday, stocks went wobbly in some sectors. Today, Wednesday, the action remained largely the same. The NASDAQ took a minor hit (particularly in some of the major stocks).

But on the other hand, the Dow and the S&P 500 – now including Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) – were treading water. They ended up slightly in the Green Zone.

At this time of year, as Christmas and New Year’s Day approach, individual investors button up their portfolios. They continue to chase current winners, while dumping their losers for tax-loss selling. Still others, however, try to pick up shares of some of these beaten-up stocks. Instinctively, they know their prospects are likely to improve in 2021. For this reason, technical and fundamental analysis becomes temporarily unmoored from logic. Well, more than usual, anyway.

As a result, trading action gets harder to figure out. The situation is exacerbated by rapidly declining volume as traders, investors, fund managers, and the rest of the crowd heads off to distant lands (or counties) to celebrate the holidays with families and friends, despite the fact that the masked masses are not allowed to do so, because COVID-19. Or something.

Exceptions to the rule:

Yes, all of us remain under house arrest more or less. Except, of course, for “essential” government bureaucrats like coronavirus maven, Dr. Deborah Birx. She’s decided to call it quits for her government service after she – like every other sanctimonious Democrat in power – was caught celebrating Thanksgiving with family in Delaware. Rules for thee, not for me. Maybe we get even on Christmas. But at least we get time off.

Trading can prove highly unreliable around the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays

Meanwhile, stock markets grind on, even during the holidays. But here’s a rule to watch: When the volume of trading goes down, the reliability of stock pricing and moves both up and down becomes questionable. And that’s what we get every year around this time. So investors should be careful not to trade in and out on impulse.

But making matters worse, we have no clue what will happen to stocks after the first of the incoming year. Should Sleepy Joe Biden and his Commie pals actually move into the White House on January 20, will that be positive for stocks, or not? Will we see a Democrat-overspending rally? Or will we see terrified capitalists – particularly terrified oil barons – heading for the hills and dumping every equity they own? Hard to say. But lots of 401(k)s that depend on stocks could get hard pressed if the Commies go Full Commie.

Or – perish the thought – will state and Federal Republicans grow a collective pair and put President Trump back into the office he clearly won in November? That is, until Philadelphia’s Democrat Mafia, and their friends in Detroit, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta managed to find truckloads of ballots in the early A.M. of November 4. Nearly all those fake, dead or duplicate had marked only the Sleepy Joe Biden box on each ballot.

But forget that scenario. Nothing to see here, folks. So move along.

Taking it easy as the 2020 year-end trading schedule unfolds

As for now, however, let’s resolve to clear out any remaining junk in our portfolios, favor dividend-paying stocks and preferred stocks, tilt more toward fiscal safety in investments rather than those win-big crapshoots we’ve come to love, and, well, just play it safe until the smoke clears.

In the meantime, let’s get to that 2020 year-end trading schedule before it’s too late! Data and some verbiage courtesy of Charles Schwab’s website.

2020 year-end trading schedule for US and Canadian Stock Markets for the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays
Thursday, December 24, 2020
  • US equity, options, mutual fund and futures markets close at 1:00 p.m. today. Extended trading and bond markets close at 2:00 p.m. ET.
  • Pre-Market trading takes place as usual. After Hours trading begins at 1:05 p.m. ET and will end at 5:00 p.m. ET.
  • Orders placed after market close will reflect a trade date of Monday, December 28, 2020.
  • For money moves in individual accounts, check with your individual brokerage firm for details.
Friday, December 25, 2020: Christmas Day
  • US and Canadian markets are closed for the Christmas Holiday.
  • No Pre-Market or After Hours trading will take place.
  • Many international markets are open Friday for trading. If you have trading privileges on international exchanges, check with your brokerage for trading details.
Monday, December 28, 2020
  • US markets are open as usual. Ditto for Pre-Market and After Hours trading.
  • Canadian markets will remain closed to mark the Boxing Day holiday, given that the actual date occurs over the weekend. However, dually listed Canadian stocks will trade in US markets on Monday, December 28, 2020.
  • Mutual fund orders placed after the December 24, 2020 early market close or while markets are closed December 25, 2020 will receive a trade date of December 28, 2020.
Thursday, December 31, 2020: New Year’s Eve
  • US equity, options, mutual fund and futures markets will open for trading as usual.
  • But bond markets will close at 2:00 p.m. ET. Orders placed after the early market close will reflect a trade date of January 4, 2021
  • Pre-Market and After Hours trading sessions take place as usual.
  • Canadian markets will open as usual.
  • For money moves in individual accounts, check with your individual brokerage firm for details.
Friday, January 1, 2021: New Year’s Day
  • All US and Canadian markets are closed.
  • No Pre-Market or After Hours trading sessions will take place.
  • Many international markets are open Friday for trading. If you have trading privileges on international exchanges, check with your brokerage for trading details.
Important final caveat

Mandatory IRA withdrawals for retirees are not in force this year due to earlier coronavirus legislation passed by Congress. If you don’t want to take this otherwise mandatory withdrawal in 2020, you do not need to do so.

Settlement Dates for the 2020 End of Year Holiday Season
Equity orders settle as follows:

Trade Date

Settlement Date

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 Monday, December 28, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020 Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Wednesday, December 30, 2020 Monday, January 4, 2021
Thursday, December 31, 2020 Tuesday, January 5, 2021
The wrap…

That’s it for now, folks. Meanwhile, be sure to enjoy the upcoming holidays. But be careful with those itchy trading fingers. This can be a treacherous time of year for traders and investors alike.

– Headline image: Screen grab from official Vimeo video clip of NYSE tree lighting ceremony, 2019. Fair use. Via


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17