Euronext has ruled out changes to opening hours across its six stock exchanges in Europe, in a blow to market participants who had complained that current schedules are inefficient and antisocial.
The decision by Euronext, which runs the primary exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Oslo and Lisbon, leaves the London Stock Exchange to decide if it should go it alone in shortening its hours.
Stock markets in Europe are open for longer than counterparts around the world. Most run continuously for eight-and-a-half hours from 8am GMT, overlapping with parts of the trading day in Asia and the US. New York, in contrast, operates for just six-and-a-half hours, while exchanges in Tokyo and Hong Kong both close for an hour for lunch.
Fund managers, banks and market makers have lobbied Europe’s big exchanges this year to shorten the day at both ends. Supporters say the move is necessary partly to make life easier for working parents, and also to boost liquidity — the long days can be punctuated by spells of inactivity, especially in the morning, and much of the activity is compressed into an often-frantic end-of-day auction.
Stéphane Boujnah, chief executive of Euronext, said that opinions among its users had been mixed. In general, institutional investors such as asset managers had been in favour of shorter hours while proprietary traders and retail investors had come out against the suggestion, he noted.
“As there is no consensus among market participants and venues, we do not consider there is a strong enough case to consider modifying our trading hours,” he told the Financial Times.
The CEO accepted that questions of workforce diversity “warrant a deeper investigation.” But he added: “It’s a human resources issues, not a market structure issue.”
Euronext is the largest exchanges operator in Europe, with its markets collectively accounting for around a fifth of the value of shares traded on the continent.
The group’s stance is in line with Deutsche Börse, Spain’s BME and Nasdaq, which operates seven equity exchanges in the Nordic and Baltic regions. Some exchanges have seen the lobbying as a matter of concern for London, in particular, pointing out that other countries have more comprehensive welfare systems and shorter commuting hours than workers around the UK capital.
The LSE has not made a decision on shortening its trading hours, which also run from 8am to 4:30pm, but most of the respondents to its consultation favoured a later start at 9am. The company, which is due to report interim results on Friday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Euronext’s decision.
Optiver, an Amsterdam-based market maker, said it welcomed Euronext’s decision but called on the region’s exchanges to extend their hours, to take advantage of Europe’s position as a bridge between Asia and the US.
“A majority of market participants already value the current overlap with US hours,” said Edward Monrad, head of European equity market structure at Optiver Europe. “With Asian markets certain to continue growing in coming decades, now is the time to take a long-term view and lengthen European trading to overlap with Asian business hours.”