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National Stock Exchange (NSE) Contemplates Extended Trading Hours: A Strategic Move

National Stock Exchange (NSE) Contemplates Extended Trading Hours: A Strategic Move


The National Stock Exchange (NSE), India's largest stock exchange and (world’s N largest!), is in the final stages of deliberation regarding an extension of trading hours for equity derivatives, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Extended Trading Proposal

The NSE is considering introduction of an evening trading session, potentially spanning from 6 pm to 9 pm. During this extended session, market participants would be able to engage in trading futures and options contracts after the regular trading hours, which currently operate from 9:15 am to 3:30 pm. There is also the possibility of further extending this evening session until 11:30 pm in the future.

Objectives of Extended Trading

1. Swift Response to Global Events: The primary motive behind this strategic shift is to empower local traders with the capability to respond promptly to global events. Presently, Indian exchanges close their doors just before U.S. markets open, which restricts traders' capacity to react swiftly to international developments.

2. Revitalizing Trading Volumes: The extension of trading hours holds the potential to invigorate trading volumes. This assumes significance in light of concerns that certain major and sophisticated traders, such as proprietary trading desks and hedge funds, might relocate to competing venues, including GIFT City, where trading is a round-the-clock affair.

Regulatory Process and Industry Feedback

The NSE has submitted its proposed plan to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for approval. SEBI, India's securities market regulator, has previously introduced regulations allowing exchanges to extend trading hours for futures and options (F&O) until 11:55 pm and for equity shares until 5 pm.

The NSE has actively sought input from leading brokers and other key market participants over the past few months. These discussions have been further examined during meetings of the NSE's Trading Members Advisory Committee.

Phased Product Introduction

To ensure a smooth transition, the NSE is considering a gradual rollout of products during the extended evening session. The initial phase would involve index futures and options, including popular indices like Nifty and Bank Nifty. Subsequently, the exchange may explore the inclusion of stock derivatives. Importantly, the expiration dates and timings for all products will remain unchanged.

Streamlined Settlement Procedures

Although the evening session is treated as a separate trading period, the NSE has proposed a settlement process that would combine trades executed during this session with those of the following day's regular trading session. This approach aims to simplify settlement procedures and ensure seamless market continuity.

Debates and Challenges

The proposal for extended trading hours has encountered resistance from some market participants, notably prominent brokerage firms. Critics argue that longer trading hours may not necessarily lead to increased volumes or turnover. Instead, they express concerns that it could drive up overall costs and possibly lead to employee dissatisfaction.

However, it's important to note that this resistance is not as formidable as it once was. The current market landscape is primarily composed of online brokers equipped with automated systems. Unlike traditional brokers, these digital-first entities do not require a substantial increase in relationship managers to serve clients during extended trading hours.

The NSE's defense has centered on the idea that brokers only need to expand the existing infrastructure they have built for commodity derivatives to accommodate the equities segment. Commodity derivatives markets already operate until 11:30 pm daily, serving as a precedent for extending trading hours in other market segments.

From a traders’ perspective, techniques like back testing will be rendered useless due to change in the duration of trading hours. Strategies and tools like Execution Algos, will be also be impacted due to longer trading hours and associated market fluctuations.

Potential Impact

If the NSE's proposal come to fruition, it could have a profound impact on India's financial markets:

1. Enhanced Global Integration: Extended trading hours could align Indian markets more closely with global developments, potentially attracting increased international investor interest.

2. Competition and Diversification: This move might stimulate heightened trading activity within India's borders, reducing the risk of losing market participants to global rivals like GIFT City.

3. Embrace of Technology: The transition to automated trading systems and digital platforms is expected to accelerate, highlighting the pivotal role of technology in the modern trading ecosystem.

In conclusion, the National Stock Exchange's proposal to extend trading hours for equity derivatives represents a significant development that could reshape India's financial markets. While it faces resistance from some quarters, the potential benefits, including heightened global integration and increased trading volumes, make this a development of paramount interest to traders, investors, and market enthusiasts.