Since the advent of electronic trading in the late 1990s, S&P 500 futures have traded close to 24 hours a day. In this post, which draws on our recent Staff Report, we document that holding U.S. equity futures overnight has earned a large positive return during the opening hours of European markets. The largest positive returns in the 1998–2019 sample have accrued between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. U.S. Eastern time—the opening of European stock markets—and averaged 3.6 percent on an annualized basis, a phenomenon we call the overnight drift.
The price impact of a trade derives largely from its informational content. The “workup” mechanism, a trading protocol used in the U.S. Treasury securities market, is designed to mitigate the instantaneous price impact of a trade by allowing market participants to trade additional quantities of a security after a buyer and seller first agree on its price. Nevertheless, workup trades are not necessarily free of information. In this post, we assess the role of workups in price discovery, following our recent paper in the Review of Asset Pricing Studies (an earlier version of which was released as a New York Fed staff report).