Financial markets buzz around the clock, as there's always a country open for business in some part of the world. While stock exchanges have set hours -- 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday, for the New York Stock Exchange -- trading also occurs outside those hours. Collecting pre-market information alerts you to big events and price moves impacting stocks that day, before other investors are even out of bed.
Find a reliable and steady news source. Economic and political news releases are scheduled in the pre-market and throughout the day, which affect the financial markets. Online brokerage accounts usually include a news feed, but the function needs to be turned on and may incur a fee. Bloomberg and other financial websites provide an economic calendar showing major scheduled economic data releases and political speeches. The calendar updates when data is released, providing you with the news that traders and investors will be focusing on that day.
Watch for pre-market earnings announcements, analyst upgrades and downgrades and company conference calls. These events affect how current and potential shareholders view a stock, which affects the stock's value. Yahoo! Finance and other financial sources provide earnings and conference call data so are aware of these events in advance. Upgrades and downgrades are surprise announcements, but are posted on Yahoo! Finance and other news sites when they occur.
Monitor stock market index prices. Whether a major stock market index -- such as the Standard and Poor's 500 (S&P 500) -- is up or down in the pre-market lets you know if most stocks will open the regular trading session lower or higher than their previous close price. The Bloomberg website and TV channel provide pre-market charts and values for many major indexes, both domestic and global.
Get real-time stock prices. Big price moves in a stock, or lots of volume, in pre-market trading lets you know there is news out on the stock already, or news is likely to come out shortly. CNN Money provides a daily list of stocks which have shown significant movement or volume in the pre-market. Type a stock symbol into Yahoo! Finance before the market opens, and it provides you with the price of the most recent pre-market transaction.
- Most online trading accounts provide pre-market stock price quotes, and news feeds 24 hours a day.
- The spread between the bid and ask -- the price participants are willing to buy and sell at -- can be much larger in the pre-market, because there are fewer participants.
- Price can react violently to news events or even a large transaction, because there is less volume and fewer participants in pre-market trading.