Regular trading hours for the London Stock Exchange (LSE) are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM ET. The stock market periodically closes during the Public and bank holidays of England & Wales.
- United Kingdom market holidays aren't the same as traditional U.S. market holidays.
- You cannot trade traditional assets like stocks and bonds over U.K. market holidays.
- U.K. market holidays occasionally have a partial trading schedule that traders should know.
Are you thinking about investing over a United Kingdom holiday? First, you’ll need to understand the different U.K. market holidays and trading hours which vary depending on particular schedules.
U.K. trading hours differ significantly from U.S. market hours. By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll have a better grasp on the trading schedule and certain U.K. market holidays.
U.K. Market Holidays Overview
U.S. stock market holidays generally follow the U.S. federal holiday calendar (except for U.S. bond market holidays) but U.K. stock market holidays have a different, less rigid schedule.
What is a market holiday, exactly? It occurs when the major exchanges are closed for trading and settlement. As a result, any attempted trade execution will be held until the market reopens following the holiday. In addition, market holidays generally include all exchanges, so you cannot trade stocks, bonds and derivatives like options and futures during these times.
Since most trading centers around London, U.K. market holidays are also known as London stock market holidays. There are two distinct types of London market holidays — public and bank holidays. Public holidays in the U.K. include Christmas, New Year’s Day and Boxing Day. Bank holidays are specified under the Bank Holiday Act, passed in 1871 (later replaced by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971).
About the London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is the primary exchange where securities are bought and sold in the U.K. The LSE is the oldest exchange in the world, with origins that date back to the British coffee houses in the 1600s, when coffee shop owners would post commodity prices for their clients. The LSE has had several location changes over the centuries. The current iteration resides at Paternoster Square in London following a 2004 move from Threadneedle Street.
The LSE owns many European index providers, such as the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) Group. A conglomeration of the Financial Times and the London Exchange, the FTSE Group creates and manages major stock indices such as the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and FTSE SmallCap Index. The FTSE Group also has an international presence, with indices tracking and trading in 80 different countries.
The pound sterling is the primary currency of the LSE. As of Q3 2022, the exchange's total market capitalization is over $3.6 trillion.
Trading Hours Summary
You can only execute securities trades during designated trading hours, depending on specific U.K. market holidays. LSE trading hours have two types of schedules: regular and partial. All trading hours are Monday through Friday; no stock or bond trades are executed on Saturday or Sunday. The U.K. trading sessions are some of the world’s longest and many traders disapprove of their grueling hours.
Regular Trading Hours
Regular trading hours are the standard schedule for most market days. Unless there’s a specific holiday, the session runs within normal trading hours. The regular LSE trading hours schedule is as follows (all times in GMT):
- Morning session: 8 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.
- Lunch close: 12 p.m. to 12:02 p.m.
- Afternoon session: 12:03 pm to 4:30 p.m.
Extended hours trading run from 5:05 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on days with regular trading hours.
The two-minute “lunch break” session isn’t actually a meal break. In 2014, the exchange decided to halt open trading for a few minutes to allow large trades to execute at a frozen stock price. The pause prevents institutional transactions from being front-run by high-frequency traders. As a result, the two-minute sessions are known as auction sessions; similar sessions also occur 10 minutes before and after the opening LSE bell.
Partial Trading Schedule
Partial trading occurs the day before a few major public holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day. The partial trading schedule has no breaks and goes like this:
- Open: 8 a.m.
- Close: 12:30 p.m.
No two-minute auction session occurs at midday, although the post-market auction session runs from 12:30 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. The pre-market trading hours are still 5:05 p.m. to 7:50 p.m., while the post-market trading session runs from 12:40 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. on partial schedule days.
LSE Market Holidays
Take a look at both public and bank U.K. market holidays below. Note that Boxing Day isn’t a holiday in the U.S., but it is an Australian and Canadian market holiday:
- New Year’s Day (full holiday)
- Good Friday (full holiday)
- Easter Monday (full holiday)
- Early May bank holiday (full holiday)
- Late May bank holiday (full holiday)
- Summer bank holiday (full holiday)
- Christmas Eve (partial trading schedule)
- Christmas (full holiday)
- Boxing Day (full holiday)
- New Year's Eve (partial trading schedule)
U.K. market holidays vary depending on the annual calendar. Research these dates at the beginning of each year.
How to Invest Over a U.K. Market Holiday
Investing over a market holiday requires some planning because of exchange closes. Keep these steps in mind as the holidays approach.
Step 1: Consult your investment plan.
Each investment should begin with an investment plan featuring the goals of each asset purchase and rules on when to buy or sell. Consulting this plan before the U.K. stock market holidays ensures that your preferences are in order.
Step 2: Determine whether you should rebalance.
Most investors rebalance quarterly, biannually or annually, but market holidays are another good time to reevaluate positions. It’s easy to forget investments, especially toward the end of the year, during the holidays. As the holidays approach, glance at your stock portfolio to ensure your assets are appropriately allocated. If you’re overweight on certain securities, a quick rebalance before the holidays can help you get closer to your annual goals.
Step 3: Allow compound interest to keep working.
For most investors, the key to investing on market holidays means simply doing nothing. Unless you find a particularly unbalanced position, treat market holidays as a break from the stresses of finance. Allow your investments to do their work while you spend time with your family.
How to Trade Over a U.K. Market Holiday
Trading isn’t the same as investing. Investors usually can ignore market holidays; traders must be conscious of them to avoid holding positions longer than anticipated.
Step 1: Understand full holidays and partial holidays.
Traders often operate under tight profit and loss rules. Holding a position overnight can often take control out of the trader’s hand, so if you plan on trading around LSE stock market holidays, be sure to know which are full and which are partial.
Step 2: Exit positions you don’t want to hold over a holiday.
The partial trading days on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are the most crucial to be aware of since the market will open normally, but trading ends at 12:30 p.m. If you have specific securities that you don’t want to hold over the holiday, exit these positions before the 12:30 closing bell on partial trading days.
Step 3: Monitor economic developments over the holiday.
If you’re a short-term trader, you can’t buy or sell over the break but you should still keep an eye on the news and current events over the holiday. For example, Christmas and Boxing Day frequently occur in the same week, which means two full holidays and a partial holiday in addition to the weekend. That could mean four and a half straight days without trading, which may seem like a long time when you have short-term objectives.
Know the Market Calendar
Long-term investors aren’t generally affected by market holidays but traders should have detailed knowledge of the market calendar. Trading session times can vary depending on the holiday. The U.K. calendar is quite different from the traditional U.S. stock market holiday schedule. Always have a plan before entering your trades, especially if you know a partial trading day is coming up.