Robinhood Now Lets Users Trade Stocks 24/5. But Does That Mean You Should?

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  • Robinhood's new 24 Hour Market allows users to place limit orders well after hours, running from 8 p.m. Sundays through 8 p.m. Fridays.
  • Only 43 stocks and ETFs will be eligible for 24 Hour Market trades, though the list does include a few popular picks like Amazon and Apple.
  • The actual utility of this new feature is questionable, but it may be a nice change for some folks who want more time to fit trading into their schedule.

Have you ever spent an evening staring out the window, shrouded in melancholy, desperately wishing you could trade stocks right now, because surely the wait until morning would cause nothing but abject despair?

Good news!

Popular trading app Robinhood has launched the 24 Hour Market. This new feature allows users to place limit orders -- orders that can only be executed at your specific limit price -- 24 hours a day, five days a week.

How does it work? Is this even a good idea? Let's dive in!

Using the 24 Hour Market

The 24 Hour Market will operate from 8 p.m. ET on Sundays through 8 p.m. ET on Fridays. (Sorry, still no Saturday trades.) Only a limited number of stocks and ETFs will be eligible -- Robinhood says there are just 43 to start -- but the list does include some of the most popular stocks, including Tesla (TSLA), Amazon (AMZN), and Apple (AAPL).

You can use the Market through the mobile app. And making use of the new feature seems to be fairly straightforward, consisting of a few basic steps:

  1. Choose what to buy and/or sell. Robinhood will differentiate which securities are tradable 24 hours, so you can easily find available stocks and ETFs.
  2. Set the limit price. 24 Hour Market trades are made as limit orders, which means you set the maximum price you want to pay (or minimum price for which you want to sell).
  3. Set time limits. You can choose a time limit by which the order should be executed or expire.
  4. Choose the number of shares to buy/sell.
  5. Submit the trade. Once you choose the number of shares, you'll see an order summary so you can verify your choices. Then you swipe to submit the trade.

And that's it. Provided your time and price limits are valid (i.e., there are enough shares at your limit price), your trade will execute.

A big increase in trading hours

Robinhood isn't new to the off-hours trading game. They previously offered 13-hour trading windows during the week, providing pre-market trading from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and post-market trading from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Of course, extending those hours around the clock is certainly a big change. This could be a boon for certain traders who may otherwise find it hard to fit trading into their schedule, or those who want to react to off-hours news.

As Robinhood put it in its blog post, "We've often heard from customers that it's tough to find time for investing during regular market hours with work, family, and everything in between. Market-moving news can also break anywhere and at any time. With 24 Hour Market, advanced traders have the flexibility to act in real-time, around the clock, managing their portfolio and adapting to new information, whenever it hits."

The 24 Hour Market is only available to select customers in May, and it will roll out to everyone else in June.

The perils of late-night trading

While this change could be useful for some folks, the limitations involved make it less useful than it could be.

For one thing, limit orders aren't the same as market orders. You need to set the price per share you're willing to trade for, and if the security isn't available at that price before the order expires, the trade won't happen.

Additionally, the 24 Hour Market isn't much use to you unless you're interested in the 43 stocks and ETFs that are included in the program. Sure, lots of popular options are said to be included. But how often do you really need to trade Apple stock in the middle of the night?

Then there's the fact that the later hours of the day are rarely good for anyone's finances. How many poor financial decisions have you made after a glass of wine (or two) and an hour of bad TV? Do we really want to go from ordering Amazon junk we don't need in the middle of the night -- to ordering Amazon stock we don't need?

If you're one of the targeted demographic who have been desperately wishing for extended trading hours to better fit your schedule, congrats. You now have them, at least in a limited sense. For everyone else, this new feature is a neat idea -- but probably not very useful.

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