Last Updated on June 17, 2021 by Oddmund Groette
All markets are different and have their own seasonalities and tendencies. In the stock market, the tendency is for the gains to accrue during the night – ie. an overnight bias.
Since 1993, all the gains in the S&P 500 have come from owning the index from the close to the open the next day. We see the same tendency in the gold markets. Thus, we can develop night trading strategies to take advantage of this bias. At the end of the article, we update the results of an overnight trading strategy we published in 2014.
What is night trading?
By night trading we mean holding positions overnight – from the close of the trading day until the open the next day. In other words, night trading is the same as overnight trading.
Let’s give you an example:
The official market hours for the stock market are 0930 to 1600 Eastern US time. Night trading is thus owning the “stock market” from 1600 until 0930 the next day.
In this article, we refer to the stock market as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq.
Night trading/overnight trading is not after-hours trading
After-hours trading is when you buy and sell between the official market hours.
Overnight trading is not like that. You place orders at the close or just seconds before the close. You sell at the open the next day or put in a limit or market order at or very near the opening bell.
Why night trade?
As you’ll see from the statistics further below, there are good reasons why you should keep positions overnight, at least in the stock market.
How does night trading work?
As you’ll learn below, some markets rise during the night period. This is something you can take advantage of when you are building strategies:
You are looking to find edges from holding from the close to the next open. The time frame is short, but there are reasons why this should work.
Why hold positions overnight?
Did you know that practically all the gains over the last 30 years have come overnight?
Have a look at this chart that shows the accumulated returns of owning the S&P 500 from the close to the open next day:
The chart shows 100 000 invested and compounded in the ETF SPY from 1993 until May 2021. Clearly, there is a solid edge! You have a nice tailwind you can take advantage of when building strategies:
The average gain of holding the S&P 500 from the close until tomorrow’s open is 0.04%. It’s tiny and is, of course, not enough to make money if we include slippage and commissions.
Is it only in stocks that we have an overnight edge?
No, it turns out we have the same tendency in gold (GLD):
You get a tailwind of about 0.04% by owning gold from the close until the next open.
If we look at gold miners (GDX) the edge is even bigger:
Why is there an overnight edge in the markets?
The reason is most likely due to inflation and earnings growth over time.
Moreover, there is added risk by holding overnight. Thus, in the long-term, you should get rewarded for undertaking this risk and that’s probably one of the main reasons why the stock market tends to rise during the night.
While you are sleeping, drinking beer with your friends, watching TV, or reading a book, your capital is at work. Isn’t that wonderful? This is the reward you get for delaying gratification to the future:
When the markets open, any macro news, earnings, or whatever news there are get discounted rapidly. Can you still profit during the opening hours the next day?
Is day trading worth it?
If you’re a day trader in stocks it turns out you can’t get any help from the long-term tailwind from owning stocks.
What happens if you are invested in the S&P 500 from the open to the close? The chart below is pretty sobering:
In other words, all the gains of owning stocks have come from holding overnight – during the night while you were making love to your partner. Multi-tasking can be profitable and enjoyable!
For the gold miners (GDX), the statistics are even worse. If you own the GDX from the open to the close every day you’ve had the following returns:
Despite a solid edge overnight, you need to make trading strategies
Despite the long-term drift upwards overnight, you need to make solid strategies to make up for slippage and commissions. Unfortunately, it not as easy as it seems if you want to trade on the “anomaly” compared to just “buy and hold”.
However, we have published both free and paid edges/strategies profiting on the overnight bias. For example, this trading strategy which we made several years ago (2014) is still working pretty well:
Seven years of out of sample gives this equity curve:
We end the article by giving you a humble reminder of what we do on this website:
We are publishing overnight edges and strategies in our subscription service:
Below we give you three equity charts of overnight edges we have made for the subscription service (in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq):
Free night/overnight strategies in the S&P 500
We have a landing page where we have 60+ free strategies/edges we have published since 2012. That page consists of several overnighters. Alternatively, you can order a PDF file where we have summarized all the 60+ strategies into one file with Amibroker code:
Disclosure: We are not financial advisors. Please do your own due diligence and investment research or consult a financial professional. All articles are our opinions – they are not suggestions to buy or sell any securities.