Gold Trading Hours

Published on 28/09/2023

Gold trades 24 hours a day from Sunday afternoon to Friday (GMT) across the world's financial centres.

Here are official gold trading hours across the physical and futures gold markets in London, New York and Shanghai.

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London, New York and the Shanghai Gold Exchange account for more than 90% of global gold trading volumes(1). Here are their official trading hours in local time and GMT:

City Market Local time GMT
London LBMA (physical) 24 hours a day, with benchmarks set at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm (London time) 24 hours a day, with benchmarks set at 09:30 am and 2:00 pm
New York COMEX (futures) Sunday - Friday, 5:00 pm to 4:00 pm (Chicago Time) 11:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Shanghai SGE (physical and futures) Monday - Saturday, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm (day), 8:00 pm to 2:30 am (night) (Beijing Time) 01:00 am to 07:30 am (day), noon to 6:30 pm (night)

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The London Gold Market

The London gold market is a physical gold market where trading happens over-the-counter (OTC) between members of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). This means that trading occurs directly between participants, without going through a centralised exchange. Participants include central banks, financial institutions, refiners and miners.

The LBMA sets standards for the gold and silver bars traded in the London Precious Metals Market, known as "Good Delivery". Only gold and silver bars that meet its standard are acceptable for settlement. It also maintains the "Good Delivery List", a record of refiners whose bars it has accredited.

The London gold price is set daily, twice a day, by auction through an electronic platform, on business days. Only 15 participants contribute to price formation(2). These include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan alongside several Chinese financial institutions.

Final auction prices, set at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm (London time), are known as the LBMA Gold Price AM and LBMA Gold Price PM respectively(3). These fixings influence the price of gold as it is traded in other financial centres, such as New York and Shanghai.

Gold futures and options trading were introduced in London in 1982 and 1983 respectively, in an attempt to replicate how gold was traded in other financial centres, such as New York. However, the London Gold Futures Market ceased in 1985 for lack of interest(4).

New York Gold Trading Hours

In New York, trading in gold futures and options occurs through the Commodity Exchange Inc, more commonly known as the COMEX. The COMEX is the world’s largest exchange for gold futures, trading the equivalent of 27 million troy ounces a day (839,000 kg)(5).

By acting as the buyer to every seller, and the seller to every buyer, the CME Group virtually eliminates counterparty risk. COMEX gold futures contracts come in different sizes, namely standard (100 oz), E-mini (50 oz) and E-micro (10 oz), to accommodate investors of all sizes. Gold futures are physically delivered upon expiration to approved depositories, and must assay to a fineness of 99.5%(6).

Gold futures contracts trade almost uninterruptedly from 5:00 pm on Sunday to 4:00 pm the following Friday (Chicago Time), with a 60-minute break each day starting at 4:00 pm (Chicago Time). Interestingly, one third of COMEX trading volumes in its gold futures contract occur during Asian hours(7).

Shanghai Gold Trading Hours

China is the world's largest producer of gold(8) and Shanghai is an important physical gold trading hub for the Asian gold market.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) is both a physical and an exchange-traded gold market, where it acts as the central counterparty to buyers and sellers. In addition to trading, it provides clearing, delivery and vaulting services of gold, silver and platinum(9).

The Shanghai Gold Price is the renminbi gold benchmark generated through spot auctions held at the Shanghai Gold Exchange twice a day. Auctions are held on trading days at 10:15 am and 2:15 pm (Beijing Time)(10). These price fixes are known as the AM and PM Benchmarks respectively.

When the SGE was founded in 2002, it was only open to Chinese participants. In 2014, the SGE opened up to foreign institutions and individuals. And since 2019, individual investors like you and I can trade futures on the Shanghai Gold Price, denominated in USD and CNY, through COMEX, almost 24 hours a day.

What's the best time to trade gold?

The best time to trade gold can vary with market conditions, economic news, and global events. However, there are a few key periods when gold trading tends to be more active and volatile:

  • Overlapping trading sessions: the most active periods for gold trading occur when major financial centres overlap, such as when the London and North American sessions coincide. During these times, there is increased liquidity and trading volume, which can lead to more significant price movements.
  • Economic news releases: pay attention to economic indicators and news releases that may impact gold prices. Important reports like inflation data, non-farm payrolls, GDP figures and central bank announcements can materially affect the gold market. Traders often look for opportunities before and after the release of such news.
  • Market open and close times: the opening and closing hours of major markets, such as the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the Commodity Exchange, Inc. (COMEX), can see increased trading activity in gold. These periods may present trading opportunities as traders react to overnight developments or position themselves ahead of the market open.

Trading gold can be risky. That's why it's recommended to have a solid understanding of market dynamics, use risk management techniques, and stay updated on relevant news and events. It's also advisable to consult with a financial advisor or do thorough research before making any investment or trading decisions.

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