Holding Trades Overnight: good or bad idea??


Junior member
Holding trades overnight has certain benefits and risks. Some consider it a necessary part of a trading plan. So following your trading plan and playing the proper share size are very important. Properly handled, over time the benefits should outweigh the risks. However, no matter how careful you are, you will have a morning where a position you have is gapping open against you.

Remember, overnight there are no stops. Let's say you are long XYZ at $30, and at 7 a.m. the next morning company XYZ makes some announcements. Let's say they are going to miss their next earnings number and the CEO just resigned and they think they have accounting problems. There is a good chance that when trading starts at 8 a.m. EST (pre-market trading starts with ECNs at this time) that your stock will be trading much lower. Let's say at 8am it's trading at $26 From 8:00-9:30 it ranges from $26 - $25 and then at 9am it opens at 25.10. It will not matter that you have a stop in place at $28.50. During pre-market, stops are not in effect. When the market opens, your stop will be filled (if it is GTC, or if you re-entered it at open) at the best price at the time, $25.10, not your desired price of $28.50.

So, how do you handle these situations? Here are some tips to put the odds in your favor to manage these situations in the best way over the long term:

First, do not panic. Easy to say, but hard to do. However, it will not be hard to do if you have a strategy in place out for these situations.

Second, ignore the pre-market trading. From 8 until 9:30 only ECNs are trading; some stocks don't trade at all. If your stock is gapping down like this, it will likely be trading, but will likely be trading erratically.

Third, when it opens officially at 9:30, do nothing for five minutes. That is right, just watch it. After five minutes, mark off the low and put a stop for half your shares a nickel to a dime under that five-minute low.

Then let it trade for 30 minutes. Then put a stop for the other half of your shares a nickle to a dime under that 30-minute low. At this point, if the stock did not violate the five-minute low, you will still have all your shares, half with a stop under the five-minute low, half under the 30-minute low.

You will find on many occasions, that you may still have all your shares, or at least half. Often, after a large gap, the opening half hour puts in the lows for the upcoming days. If your shares do stop, you are usually risking a relatively small amount extra.

From there, you can treat the trade as a swing with a one-day trailing stop, or the stock may rebound to prior levels and you can follow your prior plan. While the example given was for a gap down on a long position, the exact same rules hold true for gapping up on a short position. Use the 5- and 30-minute highs as stops.

Having this as your plan for disaster will help you minimize the losses over the long term.
Most people are obsessed by daily and intraday charts to the extent that weekly charts are ignored. The classic signals work equally well in the longer time frames and there are as many decent trends, plus reversals off s/r in the longer timeframe as there are in the short term. You do need to trade smaller with wider stops, but in anticipation of catching the bigger moves tho'.

For the short term trader it's sometimes worth holding a stock overnight when there has been a positive announcement. The investors hear about it on the news or in the newspapers, rush in their "buy" orders the following morning - the MM's mark up the prices and you can sell into the spike up. And if you're lucky, short the closing of the gap when the initial buying runs out of steam as well.