You might want to buy index funds after you get off of work, but every time you try, it seems that the market is closed. In the United States, the stock market is still only open from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm eastern Monday through Friday. Can you still buy index funds when the market is closed?
Yes, you can buy index funds after hours, even when the market is closed. Index funds come in two variations – mutual funds and ETFs. Mutual index funds can only be traded only once a day after the market closes. However, ETF based index funds can be traded during and after market hours, similar to individual stocks.
Understanding the buying process of index funds and other investments can be difficult. Read on to learn more about the steps necessary to purchase an index fund and when you can purchase them.
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How To Buy Index Funds After Hours?
When it comes to trading with your index fund, whether it be a mutual fund or ETF, there are some general guidelines you want to follow to ensure that your index fund doesn’t lose value during trading.
Though we recommend that you consult a financial advisor or stockbroker before trading, here are some tips recommended for when you do decide to trade.
Avoid Trading at Market Open or Close
Often, people don’t know about after close or pre-market trading, or just simply prefer to trade when the market is completely open. This means that many people, perhaps after a holiday break, a weekend, or just a long day and evening prior, are interested in trading right at 9:30 am when the market opens.
Similarly, many brokerage firms, and even some individuals, are beginning to balance their books at the end of the day, and are looking to sell certain stocks they may not deem as valuable, or are expecting the price to fall the next day.
This means that often, the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of the trading day can be volatile than the rest of the day. Try to avoid trading the first and last 30 minutes the markets are open to avoid this volatility.
Avoid Trading Unnecessarily
Every time a stock, ETF, or share of a mutual fund is traded, there’s someone making money from the trade, either as a seller or in the form of commission. This means that, depending on the broker and the fees associated with the buying and selling of shares, individuals might actually be losing money from excessive trading.
Unless there’s an overwhelming need to sell a stock, ETF, or share of a mutual fund (i.e the stock is drastically falling in value), or unless you know for a fact that the sale of the stock will be profitable enough to cover these fees, it’s generally advisable to hold onto a stock rather than sell it needlessly to avoid these fees.
Keep an Eye on Political and Economic News
The economy, like all things, doesn’t operate within its own bubble.
Both the economy and the stock market are inherently linked to events transpiring around the world. After the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, for example, the New York Stock Exchange fell drastically when it reopened for trading.
Oftentimes, political and economic news has serious impacts on the market. It’s important to keep track of this news and invest or divest, responsibly in response to ongoing changes.
Two Types of Index Funds: Mutual Funds and ETFs
Index funds are often available to investors in the form of either a mutual fund or an ETF.
At its core, a mutual fund is a professionally managed portfolio often consisting of stocks, bonds, and sometimes real estate. An investment company, and, more particularly, a broker, is responsible for monitoring the funds to ensure they make revenue and are diversified to protect against loss.
An ETF, alternatively, is an electronically traded fund that’s made up of a basket of different stocks and bonds that tracks a specific stock index such as the S&P 500. These investments, overseen by an investment company, generally keep the same assets and thus are more often left to themselves without as much interference or oversight by a broker.
Index funds, which simply follow the stock market writ large or a specific sector, can take the form of either a mutual fund or an ETF.
Though there are some pros and cons to each, many people use both mutual funds and ETFs as forms of investment. The biggest difference between the two, however, falls in how and when each is traded.
How Mutual Index Funds Trade?
Mutual funds, because they’re directly managed by a broker rather than just being overseen by one, are traded very differently than ETFs are.
The assets that make up a mutual fund are highly liquid and traded on the primary market, meaning they’re traded from companies to individuals or firms (i.e similar to the real estate market). This means that the assets within a mutual fund can be traded whenever the market is open.
Mutual funds themselves, however, don’t change prices throughout the day.
Unlike your average stock, shares of mutual funds can only be traded once a day after the markets close. Each day, at approximately 4:00 pm, investment firms post the Net Asset Value, known as the NAV, of a mutual fund.
This value represents the selling and buying price of a share of the mutual fund.
Thus, whenever a purchase or sale of a share of a mutual fund occurs, it’s not actually executed until the next Net Asset Value is available. This may mean a relative change in the price of a mutual fund from day to day but isn’t nearly as volatile as a normal stock, whose price changes nearly every minute.
Most transactions occur within one business day, but some can take more time.
How Do ETF Index Funds Trade?
ETFs, alternatively, are managed by an investment brokerage but are sold on the secondary market, meaning that investments are sold and purchased among investors themselves, not directly from the company.
The New York Stock Exchange, NYSE for short, would be a secondary market.
Additionally, most ETFs aren’t actively managed by a broker but are passively managed, which means that it’s the broker’s job to ensure the ETF tracks a specific index.
Additionally, because ETFs are sold on the secondary market, the exact value of every asset held in an ETF is always known. So, rather than needing to wait for the one time of day in which transactions occur, ETFs can always be sold and purchased during normal selling hours.
They can also be bought and sold in pre-market and after-hours trading.
ETFs are also very different from mutual funds when it comes to trading because many ETFs, like stocks, have tickers that identify them for trading on the market. While many mutual funds do have tickers, all tickers marking mutual funds have the letter “X” as the fifth symbol on the ticker.
ETFs aren’t bound by this requirement, which often makes them easier to find because of their uniqueness in the name.
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Purchasing index funds can be an incredibly smart financial decision. While there are certain tips we advise when purchasing index funds, it’s important to speak with a broker or financial advisor before deciding to invest your hard earned money.
Additionally, if you do decide to purchase index funds, knowing the type of index fund you’re investing in is essential.
Mutual index funds and ETF index funds trade differently. Knowing the differences between the two investments and how they work is an important context in deciding to choose between the two and will help you determine when you can purchase index funds.
BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget to check out my latest article – ‘7 Proven Steps To Profitable Trading’. I surveyed 5000+ traders (and interviewed 50+ consistently profitable traders) to identify 7 statistically proven steps that will help you become a consistently profitable trader. No matter where you are in your trading journey today, I am confident that you will find this article helpful!
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