U.S. stock markets closed on Monday to pay tribute to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which is usually observed on the third Monday in January. The holiday commemorates the life of King, who was born on January 15, 1929.
King is remembered as the iconic civil rights activist who advocated for equal rights for all, regardless of race. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, a few years after delivering the historic “I Have a Dream Speech” that was the pinnacle of his equal rights campaign.
The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange took the full day off. Both stock markets first began observing the holiday on January 19, 1998. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommended that there be no trading in the US dollar-denominated bonds, including the ten-year Treasury note in the US, as well as in Japan and the UK.
Trading for commodities on the holiday, including gold and crude oil, among other contracts listed on Globex, all traded electronically. Trading floors remained closed, so no futures were settled. Globex trading began as usual at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday and ended at 1 p.m. ET on Monday.
However, not all markets observed Martin Luther King Jr Day. Market benchmarks in China, like the Shanghai, and markets in Europe, as reflected in the FTSE 100 and the Stoxx Europe 600, remained open.
The holiday came as stock markets enjoyed a strong start this year, following a tumultuous end to 2018. US investors are optimistic that the earnings season, which kicked off last week led by banking giants like Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America, will help push the markets higher. However, there are growing concerns that the ongoing partial government shutdown may weigh on some stocks.