Are futures manipulated? Price movements and volume during trading hours and not

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by JustALurker110

Monday – Opens at 2804.25

     Closes at 2833     (+28.75) <- Move from 9:30AM - 4:00PM 

Tuesday – Opens at 2863.25 (+30.25) <- Move from 4:00PM – 9:30AM

        Closes at 2858.75       (-4.5) <- Move from 9:30AM - 4:00PM

Wednesday – Opens at 2877.50 (+18.75) <- Move from 4:00PM – 9:30AM

        Closes at 2840   (-37.5) <- Move from 9:30AM - 4:00PM

Thursday – Opens at 2874.5 (+34.5) <- Move from 4:00PM – 9:30AM

        Closes at 2874  (-0.5) <- Move from 9:30AM - 4:00PM

*** Current ES is at 2905.25

Looking at exclusively 9:30AM – 4PM (REGULAR TRADING HOURS), this week /ES is up -13.75 points.

Looking at exclusively 4PM – 9:30AM (FUTURES EXTENDED), this week /ES is up 114.75 points (INCLUDING TODAYS CHANGE from 2874 to 2905 at the time of this data)

Now, lets look at volume.

Monday 9:30 – 4 volume: 984,000

    Outside regular hours: 371,000 \[Monday to Tuesday\]

Tuesday 9:30 – 4 vol: 1,072,000

    Outside regular hours: 258,300 \[Tuesday to Wednesday\]

Wednesday 9:30 – 4 vol: 627,000

    Outside regular hours: 246,000 \[Wednesday to Thursday\]

Thursday 9:30 – 4 vol: 593,000

    Outside regular hours: 70,000 so far since 4PM

AS you can see, after hours (or outside regular trading hours) is literally always green. Despite volume being 1/3 to 1/4 of what it is during regular trading hours, it moves the markets much further than it does during trading hours. During trading hours so far this week ES saw volume of 3,267,000 approximately, and a price movement of -13.75 points. Outside those hours, volume was about 945,000, BUT we saw a price movement of +114.75 points. This low volume movement leads indexes and stocks to open in the same direction as the futures, which is bad because the volume is no where near the same, and most stocks/etfs/options cannot be traded during these hours anyway. What I am showing here is not unknown, its been around for decades. The chart in this article is rather shocking, and it really makes you wonder how stocks/futures can move so much after hours under minimal volume, but never during regular trading hours.

The argument that futures are manipulated is plain as day. If all the movements happen after hours, why isnt there volume to back it up, or why doesn’t the rally continue into the day?

Can you profit? by buying into futures at close, or right when they reopen at 6PM EST, you will likely be able to captures 5-10 point moves upwards. Though buying slighly OTM calls for 2-3 weeks out would likely also yield nice results, look for something with a relatively high delta in this case to profit even off of 30 point moves on ES, which is about a $3 move on SPY.



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