DEFINITION of 'Business Day'

A business day is a popular unit of time measure that typically refers to any day in which normal business operations are conducted. This is generally considered to be Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm local time, and excludes weekends and public holidays. Within the securities industry, any day the financial markets are open for trading is considered to be a business day. As a rule of thumb: in the U.S., there are generally considered to be 252 trading days in a year.

BREAKING DOWN 'Business Day'

Consumers often encounter the issue of a business day when depositing a check that needs to clear. Depending on the size of the check being deposited and the location of the issuer it can take between two and 15 business days for a check to clear, and those days do not include weekends or observed public holidays, which can extend the time that a depositor needs to wait to access those funds. When conducting international business transactions, individuals and companies should be aware that business days may vary by country due to a difference in the public holidays observed.

Other common business day considerations arise when multinational entities engage in international transactions, which typically require additional business days to settle, relative to routine domestic transactions. Various financial contracts and instruments also have an array of different settlement time periods, some ranging from a single day or T+1 in financial parlance to other lengths requiring three business days. Market sophistication and liquidity often determine transaction settlement time periods.

In many ways, improvements in communication channels and capabilities have blurred the traditional business day convention, as businesses and individuals can now conduct business nearly 24/7.

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