What is a market suspension and what does it mean?

Market suspensions are rare measures taken by a central government in times of economic uncertainty and increased volatility. Here, we explain what a market suspension is and what it means for your active positions.

What is a market suspension?

A market suspension is when a country suspends trading on its national markets, which can include its stock, bond and forex markets. Suspensions usually refer to a trading halt that lasts longer than the guidelines set out for circuit breakers or limit ups and limit downs, and they can last for more than a day.

Market suspensions are used in times of economic crisis to prevent mass panic selling, and to attempt to stabilise national markets by halting all transactions for an extended period of time.

What does it mean for traders?

A market suspension means that traders will be unable to open, edit or close their positions on an affected market. This can apply to shares positions for equities listed on a country’s regional stock exchanges. For example, if the US suspended its markets, you’d be unable to close your positions on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ stock index.

Market suspensions can also mean that trading will halt in that region for other financial markets, including bonds and currencies – but accessing these assets in international markets might still be possible.

The Philippine government was the first to suspend its markets during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which meant that it halted all trading on nationally-listed stocks. Traders in the Philippines were also unable to speculate on currency pairs or Philippine bonds on domestic markets during the suspension.

What can I trade when the markets are suspended?

While a market suspension means that trading on national exchanges and trading venues is halted, you can still trade assets that are listed in different geographical locations – providing that they are still open to trade.

For example, if the UK government decided to implement a market suspension but the US government did not, you would still be able to trade Wall Street, US bonds and forex pairs in the US. However, you wouldn’t be able to trade markets such as the FTSE 100 or UK government bonds.

Since forex and cryptocurrencies are over-the-counter markets with 24-hour trading, you can also speculate on rising or falling currency and crypto prices during a regional market suspension.

This is because forex and cryptocurrency are not traded on a centralised exchange like shares, and trading is instead made possible through a global web of bankers, brokers and market makers.

Learn more about forex trading

To trade during a market suspension, follow the steps below:

  1. Create or log in to your IG account
  2. Learn which markets around the world are currently suspended
  3. Select a market that is currently open to trade
  4. Take steps to manage your risk
  5. Open, close and edit your position on an open market

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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