Readers of our last three seasonally oriented Sunday missives are now invited to a fourth and a real treat. We have obtained permission from a friend of many years to share a part of his daily note, sent on Good Friday.
UBS’ Art Cashin is assuredly the “dean” of the New York Stock Exchange and a Wall Street icon. He is also a master historian, as his friends well know. In the pre-COVID days a trip to New York would be enhanced by an early evening (5:00 PM) chat with Art after the market closed. A clink of ice added to the calm, convivial discussion. In every instance, Art demonstrated the warmth and kindness of a classic gentleman. I’m eager to restore the tradition on a future trip to New York when the post-vaccination period allows safe gathering again. Art sent the history lesson below, debunking an old myth about why the US stock market closes for Good Friday.
Arthur Cashin's Morning Comments – March 30, 2021
Seasonal Questions Pop Up Again – This, as you may have noticed, is a four-day week. That’s because U.S. equity markets are going to be closed for Good Friday. Every year, the Good Friday closure produces lots of erroneous theories about why we close. So, once again, we offer the explanation we wrote a few years back:
The Myth Of The Crash That Caused The Stock Market To Close On Good Friday – In the six decades that I’ve been in Wall Street, each Easter season sees the re-blooming of an old – and erroneous – myth.
That myth contends that the NYSE opened on a Good Friday and the terrible Black Friday crash occurred. Thus, chastened and shaken, the Governors vowed never to open on a Good Friday again. It never happened.
Thanks to the nice folks in the NYSE archives, we were able to establish a few facts. Records clearly show the NYSE closed on Good Friday as far back as 1864. Before 1864 records on the subject are a bit harder to find, but there is high likelihood that the Exchange closed on Good Friday all the way back to 1793. (It was founded on May 17th, 1792, so Good Friday would have already passed that year.)
There was a famous and terrible Black Friday crash in Wall Street, but it was primarily in the gold market. It came about when the “corner” on gold that Jay Gould and Jim Fisk had constructed (with some help from President Grant’s brother-in-law), collapsed. That occurred on September 24th, 1869, a little late in the year for Good Friday. You will also note from the search of the records that the NYSE was closing on Good Friday at least five years earlier and probably, much, much longer.
Lastly, for some unexplained reason, the NYSE stayed open on three Good Fridays. On April 8, 1898, the Dow closed down a half point. That’s hardly a crash. On the other two, April 13th, 1906 (a Friday the 13th), and March 29th, 1907, the Dow actually rose.
I hope that puts the myth to bed.
We thank Art Cashin for allowing us to share this history with our readers.
Let’s also note that the American government bond market was open on Good Friday even as the US stock market was closed. My colleague John Mousseau and I discussed this unusual scheduling, which occurred because the employment report was released at 8:30 AM on Good Friday morning. We cannot remember a previous time when the bond market was open and the stock market was closed. I guess, however, that it can happen anytime that Good Friday is the first Friday of a month so that it will coincide with the release of the nation’s employment report.
The New York Stock Exchange closes nine times a year. Exceptions are emergencies such as 9/11. Those closing holidays are listed at this link: https://www.nyse.com/markets/hours-calendars.
For curious readers, here is a link to a master list of exchanges and their holidays throughout the world provided by ForexChurch: https://www.forexchurch.com/stock-market-holidays. Readers may select any exchange and then see when it is closed and why. The list is a global tour of national, religious, and other celebrations.
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