Stock around the clock

May 25, 1999

This is an excerpt of a Boston Globe editorial that was published Friday.

THE stock market's traditional 6 1/2-hour trading day is scary enough for some investors, who can probably feel an ulcer forming at the thought of an exchange that never sleeps. But the all-night market is the way of the future -- one more convenience, or curse, of the computer age.

The technological revolution that has spawned on-line brokerage houses and lets consumers into portfolios with a keystroke has also created the virtual trading floor. Here companies known as "electronic communications networks" allow brokers to buy and sell for their clients before and after Wall Street's opening and closing bells.

These companies are planning to push the envelope to a 24-hour trading day, possibly starting this summer, to fill what they say is a roaring consumer demand for instant and constant investing.

Responding to the competition, the New York Stock Exchange is considering a plan to allow early-morning trading from 5 until 9 and extend evening hours from 5 until midnight. Nasdaq is also looking at an expanded day, allowing evening trading from 5 until 9.

The world is wired and can't unplug. The 24-hour cyber stock market joins the all-night grocery store, the round-the-clock catalog order department, the mall open till midnight, and the continuous on-line auction as one more place where a person gets absorbed in the frenzy of purchase and can no longer hear the quiet sanity of commerce observing quitting time.

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