Just as they do every New Year's Eve, bond traders will be slipping out the door several hours ahead of their counterparts in the stock market.
It's not that bond traders are slackers. They have had a rough couple of weeks, after all. But the bond market rules are a bit less rigid than stock exchange rules, which require a full day of trading on year end.
A New York Stock Exchange spokesman said it's historically always been this way. The NYSE's own website points out that when a holiday falls on a Saturday, it normally would close the Friday before, but definitely not if that Friday is also the end of the year.
Here's what it said:
"The rules of the applicable exchanges state that when a holiday falls on a Saturday, we observe the preceding Friday unless the Friday is the end of a monthly or yearly accounting period. In this case, Friday, December 31, 2010 is the end of both a monthly and yearly accounting period; therefore the exchanges will be open that day and the following Monday."
"They have a tradition of making sure they get as much tax selling in as possible, I suspect," said Art Cashin, UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange. "I know it used to be there were special tax implications for selling on the last day of the year."
Cashin, a 46-year trading floor veteran, said NYSE traders carry on anyway and have traditions of their own to keep. At 2:05 p.m., they will break into song, with a rendition of "Wait til the Sun Shines Nellie," just as bond traders are skipping out for the day. (Check out Cashin's "Nellie" history.)
Bond traders are not the only ones getting an early pass. The cash bond market closes at 2 p.m., but bond futures and many commodities futures markets close floor trading at about 1 p.m. New York time. The Nymex floor, where oil and metals are traded, is open regular hours in New York, but electronic trading closes one hour early at 4:15 p.m. Stock futures are also traded regular hours in Chicago.
And if you really just care about how much money you might have made this year, the S&P 500 is up 12.8 percent. You can take it from there.
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