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After the cash market closes at 16.00 ET (US time), the Futures market continues trading until 16.15. Futures resume trading at 16.30 until 17.30 and then again at 18.00 which means that the market is open virtually around the clock until 16.15 on Friday evening.
If you would rather not trade the Futures market, most spread betting companies maintain a book on the S&P futures through the night albeit with larger spreads than is the case during the cash session.
Hope it helps.
Kevin's given a great explanation already, but I thought I'd add a little more detail from my own experience.
In the Futures market you can trade either US Equity Indicies (Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq, Russell) or individual stocks after the closing bell at 16:00 EST but bear in mind the small windows when the market closes for 15 or 30 minutes (typically prices just stop moving over these times). In order to trade Futures directly you need an account with a futures broker and you should bear in mind that each futures contract has a specific tick size and other details. For example the Dow e-mini contract (YM) has a tick size of 1 point and if you trade the minimum 1 contract each tick is worth $5. Alternatively the S&P 500 e-mini (ES) has a tick size of 0.25 points and if you trade the minimum 1 contract each tick is worth $12. Therefore you tend to need a larger account size to trade futures than you do if you're spread betting.
Spread betting tends to be simpler. I tend to trade the basic product for the Dow (often called Wall Street or something similar on spread bet platforms). The minimum stakes are lower (typically £1/point on the Dow) so you can typically trade with smaller accounts. Bear in mind what Kevin said about the spread at certain times though. When trading the Dow on IG Index (Wall Street) the spread is currently 2 points during the cash session (9:30-16:00 EST) then widens to 4 points in the after hours and can be as much as 6 points overnight when liquidity is very low.
Any other questions please ask.
Jeff & Kevin posted most of the information already mainly focused on the Futures.
Good news is that also the stocks can be traded in the pre and after market hours. Not many brokers have this option, however large brokers like interactive brokers and a couple of spreadbetting brokers allows to trade equities also in the pre and after market hours.
If you're broker allows pre/after market trading you will almost certailny need to enable that activly or send them an email to enable it. Than also take in mind that the pre/after hours can be extremly volatile due the lack of volume. This volatility will certaily kill any stops in the way but also will often also hit our targets. So when your broker allows it, its recommended you enable targets can be hit in the outside market hours and leave the stops only active on the normal trading hours.
I personally use the pre/after market hours for news trading. When good news comes out for a stock I wait for teh first spike to fade out and then on the next up move I enter my trade. ( Apple is famous for aftermarket news ) than the good news is that the next morning the big public jumps the stock and will push it more up, by that time I am scaling out on the opening spike.
Still be very careful with this kind of trading, dont leverage yourself keep the healthy money management rules in place.
Here is a link to aftermarket quotes of the Nasdaq