A Sleepy Day in 2020 Stocks Would’ve Ranked Among 2019’s Busiest

For perspective on how frenetic the U.S. equity market has been in 2020, consider share volume on Thanksgiving eve.

In what passes for a relatively light session of late, almost 11 billion shares changed hands during Wednesday’s session, 6% below the pandemic-era average. While it’s the slowest session in more than a week, it’d rank among the five busiest in 2019. A year ago, fewer than 6 billion shares traded during the session prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Along with surging megacaps, high volatility and, recently, the reemergence of reopening plays, super-high volume has been a hallmark of the pandemic trading scene. Daily volume has averaged 11 billion this year, up 50% from 2019.

Read more:‘Very, Very Busy Week’ Wipes Out Traders’ Usual Holiday Doldrums

While volume historically thins around the holidays, traders say the new work-from-home normal has upended that and many have become glued to their screens amid heavy news flow. Retail investor activity has also picked up, with mom-and-pop tradersnow accounting for a fifth of equity trading volume, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

“It’s a lot easier to trade today than prior years,” said Ben Axler, founder and chief investment officer of Spruce Point Capital Management. “People are grounded and not in airplanes and are staying close to home.”

— With assistance by Claire Ballentine

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