What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (2024)

Is this the best time of day to `buy´ and `sell´ shares?1

The best time of day to buy and sell shares is usually thought to be the first couple of hours of the market opening. The reason for this is that all significant market news for the day is factored into the stock price first thing in the morning. So, when it comes to trading stocks, the early bird often catches the worm.

All this activity often makes the first one or two hours of a day – or even the first 15 minutes – more volatile. As the day progresses and latest macroeconomic developments and market events are already factored into stocks’ prices, trading volumes and volatility flatten out somewhat. This means the opportunities that come with volatility are typically at their highest right after markets open, decreasing as the day goes on (although activity often does pick up in the last hour of a day’s trading session).

Different markets open at different times, subject also to their time zones, so it’s important to know when your chosen market’s ‘best time’ is in your time zone. For example, you can trade the FTSE 100 from 8am UK time, while trading the DAX 40 index means 9am Frankfurt time (8am UK time). If you want to trade the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), that opens from 9.30 Eastern Time, which only at 2.30pm in UK time.

Discover the best times of day to trade around the world

Is this the best time of the week to buy and sell shares?

The best time of the week to buy and sell shares depends on a few factors – and it’s also important to remember that past performance (including the best days and hours in the week to trade) is no guarantee of future results.

With us, normal stock market trading hours are Monday mornings to Friday evenings, while our weekend hours are from 8am Saturday to 10:40pm Sunday (UK time).

May be the best time of week to buy shares: the Monday effect

One of the most popular and long-believed theories is that the best time of the week to buy shares is on a Monday. The wisdom behind this is that the general momentum of the stock market will, come Monday morning, follow the trajectory it was on when the markets closed.

So, if an exchange or index was trending up on Friday, common trading wisdom states that it’ll likely continue in that vein, though often with lower returns, when markets open again on Monday.

However, some traders and investors believe that markets tend to trend downward on Mondays. This can mean much lower returns on Monday than there were to be had on Friday, making Monday traditionally known as a good day of the week to snaffle up potentially undervalued stocks and indices.

The S&P 500 data on exchange traded funds (ETFs) for 2019 seems to uphold this, with Monday being the only trading day with a drop in its average daily change percentage.2

Then again, ‘Mondays are generally busier, with higher volumes of traders and investors, while Fridays are quieter, as is generally well known to happen in the industry according to our trading data’, says IG Assistant Portfolio Manager George Bear.

Find out more about when to trade the US stock market

What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (1)
What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (2)

Source: Bespoke Investment Group, 20192

May be the best time of week to sell shares: Friday

If back-to-work Monday markets are more likely to trend downwards (for which there’s little hard evidence, although many traders and investors certainly seem to think so), then Friday is the opposite.

Whether because of weekend optimism or because Saturday and Sunday’s news hasn’t been priced into the market yet, many traders feel that Fridays see stocks and indices priced higher. This could make Friday a good time to sell stocks, hopefully for a slightly better price than they might fetch on Monday. However, remember each week should be judged for its merits and potential pitfalls by yourself – regardless of whether it’s a Friday or not.

While Fridays may in theory be a good day to sell shares, traders and investors ignore the larger context of the market and fundamental analysis at their own peril. Generally, the more liquid and volatile a market is, the more opportunity for potential profit exists (this also means risks of loss are higher too.) So, if a significant macroeconomic event like an election takes place on a Tuesday, chances are that’ll be the best day of that week to trade.

Is this the best month to buy shares?

When it comes to the best month to buy shares, there’s an old adage that’s often repeated: ‘sell in May and go away’. This old expression is thought to come from 17th and 18th Century Britain. The thinking behind it was that wealthy investors and traders would quit London in May to spend their summer months abroad, where they wouldn’t be able to monitor their stocks or positions.

So many would ‘sell in May and go away, come back on St. Leger’s Day’ (which was traditionally in mid-September). This was thought to cause a slump in the market, with far lower trading volumes from May until autumn.

Conversely, it was thought that stocks performed better from 31 October onwards as investors and traders settled back into work for the winter. This was known as ‘the Halloween’ effect’, which stated that 31 October to 1 May was the best time of year to buy and trade shares.

The S&P 500’s average returns from 1980 to 2019 show anecdotal evidence of this. Index returns in particular were low in June, August and September, rallying again from October through to December.3 However, index returns for May weren’t particularly low, nor January and February high, throwing some doubt onto the ‘sell in May and go away’ saying.

That being said, this data comes from the past and, as we all know, past performance is no indication of future success or failure – so be sure to judge for yourself, based on rigorous analysis, when the best month to trade would be for you.

What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (3)
What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (4)

Source: Stock Analysis, 20193

What is the best day of the month to trade and invest in shares?

Unlike times in the day, there’s little clear evidence of a ‘best’ or ‘worst’ day in the month to trade or invest in shares – this will largely depend on the month in question. However, some traders speculate that, in an average month, there may be an increase in buying stocks around ‘pay day’ time, so towards the end of one month and the beginning of a new month, when salaries are in and some traders and investors have a little more disposable income to spend on new trades and shares.

If this holds true, the best time to sell shares might be around the end or beginning of a month, when interest in buying is high, which may drive up share prices. Consequently, mid-month may be a good time to buy shares as prices might be lower.

Best time to buy and sell stocks summed up

  • It’s important to remember when considering the best time to trade that past performance is never an indicator of future results, and each day, week, month and hour should be analysed in its own right by you as a trader to determine your best time
  • Common traders’ wisdom holds that the best time of day to buy and sell shares could be in the morning, right after the markets open and for the next couple of hours after that
  • The best time of the week to buy shares is thought to be Monday, when volumes of people on the market are higher – this has been dubbed the ‘Monday effect’
  • Another day that is often considered as the best day of the week to sell shares is Friday, when trading and investor volumes are lower but share and index prices may be higher
  • The best months of the year to trade were traditionally thought to be from 31 October until 1 May, though there’s little evidence to support this in our modern era
  • What’s considered the best day of the month to buy shares is similarly unclear, but could be around the end and beginning days of a month – selling shares during this period can bring benefits due to the ‘pay day effect’

1 The hours mentioned in this article are set by each individual exchange and may vary. Hours change as countries shift to and from daylight savings time.


2 Bespoke Investment Group, 2019
3 Stock Analysis, 2019

What is the best time to buy and sell shares? (2024)


What is the best time to buy and sell stocks? ›

With all these factors taken into consideration, the best time of day to trade is 9:30 to 10:30 am. The stock market opens for trading at 9:15 AM and in the first 15 minutes, the market is still responding to the previous day's news with experienced traders waiting to make their move.

What is the best time to buy and sell stocks in a day? ›

Always keep in mind the best time to sell the capital during the day at 10 am. Because of that time market open, and in the morning, many investors buy stock. 10 am is opening bell for the investor in the stock market. The best day for selling your stock is Friday because Saturday and Sunday market is closed.

When should I buy and sell shares of a company? ›

The idea is to buy stocks when they're undervalued, then sell them when they're eventually worth more. There are two popular ways to measure the value of a stock: Relative valuation: This looks at how a stock is performing when compared to its competitors.

What time should I sell my stock? ›

It's common for investors to sell shares when they've reached a certain profit goal. Suppose a particular stock has experienced significant growth and achieved the return you aimed for. In that case, you might decide to sell and secure your gains.

What week day is best to sell stocks? ›

Many traders and investors believe Friday is the best day to sell stocks. This belief comes from observations of the aforementioned Friday Effect, where stocks often enjoy a slight bump in prices as the trading week comes to a close.

What is the 3 5 7 rule in trading? ›

What is the 3 5 7 rule in trading? A risk management principle known as the “3-5-7” rule in trading advises diversifying one's financial holdings to reduce risk. The 3% rule states that you should never risk more than 3% of your whole trading capital on a single deal.

What time of day is it best to buy shares? ›

The opening period (9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time) is often one of the best hours of the day for day trading, offering the biggest moves in the shortest amount of time. A lot of professional day traders stop trading around 11:30 a.m. because that is when volatility and volume tend to taper off.

What is the 10am rule in stocks? ›

Traders that follow the 10 a.m. rule think a stock's price trajectory is relatively set for the day by the end of that half-hour. For example, if a stock closed at $40 the previous day, opened at $42 the next, and reached $43 by 10 a.m., this would indicate that the stock is likely to remain above $42 by market close.

What time of day do stocks go up and down? ›

Key Take Aways

The first hour, or 15 minutes, is the most volatile trading time. New traders should avoid the first 15 minutes until they have enough practice in a simulator. The middle of the day is the calmest and most stable time to trade. Volatility and momentum tend to pick up again from 2 PM on.

Should I sell my stocks now in a recession? ›

While selling stocks during a market downturn might make you feel better temporarily, doing so reactively because stocks are tumbling isn't a good long-term investment strategy. Volatility is a normal part of investing in the stock market, so occasional market selloffs should be expected.

When should you sell shares to take profit? ›

How long should you hold? Here's a specific rule to help boost your prospects for long-term stock investing success: Once your stock has broken out, take most of your profits when they reach 20% to 25%. If market conditions are choppy and decent gains are hard to come by, then you could exit the entire position.

How do you know when to buy or sell shares? ›

The best time of day to buy and sell shares is usually thought to be the first couple of hours of the market opening. The reason for this is that all significant market news for the day is factored into the stock price first thing in the morning.

What day of the week are stocks cheapest? ›

Historically, Mondays have often been considered a good day to buy stocks, primarily due to the 'Weekend Effect' or 'Monday Effect'. This theory suggests that stock prices tend to drop on Mondays due to negative news released over the weekend.

What is the best month to sell stock? ›

The best months for the stock market are April, November, and December; the worst months are June, August, and September.

When should I cash out my stocks? ›

When to Sell Stocks — for Profit or Loss
  1. Your investment thesis has changed. The reasons why you bought a stock may no longer apply. ...
  2. The company is being acquired. ...
  3. You need the money or soon will. ...
  4. You need to rebalance your portfolio. ...
  5. You identify opportunities to better invest your money elsewhere.
Nov 13, 2023

What is the 11am rule in trading? ›

It is not a hard and fast rule, but rather a guideline that has been observed by many traders over the years. The logic behind this rule is that if the market has not reversed by 11 am EST, it is less likely to experience a significant trend reversal during the remainder of the trading day.

What is the 30 day rule in stock trading? ›

Q: How does the wash sale rule work? If you sell a security at a loss and buy the same or a substantially identical security within 30 calendar days before or after the sale, you won't be able to take a loss for that security on your current-year tax return.


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