Billionaire investor Carl Icahn famously bragged about his election night trading prowess in 2016 when he stepped away from Donald Trump’s victory party to scoop up temporarily beaten down stocks.
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s stunning victory and the resulting market volatility, which saw S&P 500 futures tumble, briefly triggered market curbs before roaring back, ensured heavy volume in S&P 500 futures overnight. According to CME Group, more than 2.3 million e-mini S&P 500 futures contracts changed hands in overnight trade on election night in 2016, accounting for 44% of total volume on Nov. 8 (see table below). On an average day in 2016, overnight trade accounted for 10% of volume.
Source: CME Group
Could Tuesday’s closely watched and emotionally charged midterm battle for control of Congress spark a similar surge?
It depends, of course, on the results. But experts aren’t banking on similar volume.
J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, told MarketWatch that barring a major upset, markets are likely to take the results in stride Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Given last week’s volatility around trade-related headlines, Trump’s meeting with China President Xi Jinping later this month is more likely to be a major market mover, he said.
As the table shows, overnight volume in e-mini S&P 500 futures YMZ8, +0.20% in the midterm election in 2014, when Republicans took back control of the Senate and held the House, wasn’t out of the ordinary as a share of overall trade. The same was largely true in the 2012 presidential election when Barack Obama, as expected, held off Republican challenger Mitt Romney, while the 2010 midterms saw overnight activity make up a smaller-than-usual chunk of overall trade.
Widening the lens, however, shows that overnight volume for all CME futures and options, including equities, fixed-income and currencies, has tended to