Although the stock exchanges are usually only open on weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., investors can buy and sell stocks after hours, either in the early morning or early evening. After hours trading can be limiting and is not without risk. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), you may not be able to sell your stock since there is less liquidity, or trades happening, after hours. There may be a great difference between what you want to sell the stock for and what a buyer wants to pay for it, resulting in a loss of profit.
1. Find an electronics communication network (ECN) through a stockbroker that permits after-hours trading. Not every brokerage offers extended trading hours.
2. Review the stock quotes at closing on the ECN. Depending on the brokerage you use, you may only be able to see quotes from NASDAQ or NYSE, but not both. Also review closing bid and ask prices so that you can choose a price that will result in a sale.
3. Get the all-clear from your brokerage to participate in after-hours trading. Some brokerages require you to speak with a representative of the company who will explain the risks before you can buy or sell after the market closes.
4. Log on to the brokerage's website and complete the order, specifying that you want to make an after-hours trade, how many stocks you are selling and how much you want to sell them for. Most after-hour trades are limit orders, meaning the stock will not be sold for less than the price you specify. You risk not completing a trade with a limit order, especially if the spread is large and people want to buy for less than you want to sell.
- Your order may expire at the end of the after-hours session if a buyer is not found.
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