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June 19, soon to be a holiday on Wall Street?

The bell rang well as Wall Street opened on Friday morning despite enacting a new federal holiday the day before to mark the end of slavery in the United States. But the situation could change in the coming years.

This holiday, titled “Juneteenth” (contraction of “June” and “nineteenth”), will now be celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of the last slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.

As this date falls on a Saturday in 2021, “Juneteenth” took effect on Friday for federal government employees deemed non-essential.

In contrast, the major US stock exchanges, from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to the Nasdaq to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), operate as usual.

These exchanges hailed President Joe Biden’s enactment of the new holiday but stressed the need for continued trading to avoid panic among investors.

The Nasdaq thus indicated that it would remain “open on Friday, June 18, 2021 and Monday, June 21, 2021 in order to guarantee market fairness and fluidity and to minimize operational risks”.

Major stock exchanges have said they are considering shutting down their platforms in the future on June 19, with the NYSE confirming to AFP that they are considering this option as early as 2022.

“We will coordinate with the rest of the industry and the markets as we do with other federal holidays,” CME said in a tweet on Thursday.

A source close to the stock markets told AFP that updating the public holiday calendar would require the collaboration of all major platforms and regulators’ approval.

The immediate entry into force of “Juneteenth” did not give Wall Street time to adapt, specifies this source, especially since Friday is a day known as the “Four Witches”, at the end of several contracts on financial products expire.

The US stock exchanges have already added public holidays to their calendar.

This was notably the case with Martin Luther King Day (3rd Monday in January), which marks the anniversary of the birth of the famous pastor and civil rights activist.

But it was not until 1998, 15 years after the promulgation of MLK Day as a national holiday by Ronald Reagan, that Wall Street decides to take a 24-hour break on this occasion.

Other federal holidays, such as Columbus Day (the 2nd Monday in October) or Veterans Day (November 11), are no longer observed by markets even though they may have been in the past.

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