The World Cup kicks off Thursday, beginning a month of soccer fever and, possibly, a stretch of dullness in markets as global investors spend time watching the pitch rather than their trading terminals.
The first game is between host nation Russia and Saudi Arabia, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern Time — a good hour and a half into the U.S. trading day. But neither country is a “football” superpower, so few expect a nail-biter at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
If history is made, it’s more likely to be off the pitch. The leaders of the competing nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are thought likely to discuss their oil alliance when they meet for the match — and that could drive the direction of oil prices.
But that might be it, as far as the FIFA World Cup’s impact on the market goes. In fact, data from previous tournaments suggest traders get more caught up in soccer than stocks during the tournament, and that could result in smaller trading volumes.
Trading dropped by roughly 33% during games in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa, an analysis by economists from the European Central Bank and the Dutch central bank found, according to The Wall Street Journal. And volumes were 55% lower in specific countries when the national team was playing.
While the American team didn’t qualify for the 2018 final, the immensely popular month-long competition may still have an impact in the U.S. It’s one of the most-watched sporting events, attracting more than 3 billion television viewers over the whole of the 2014 contest, and 1 billion for just the final itself.
In the U.S., Fox Sports
will live-broadcast the opening game and the rest of the World Cup matches. Because of the time difference with Russia, most games will be played during U.S. working hours, while Europeans will be able to watch some matches in the evening.
Check out: Why Twitter could win the World Cup
The contest for the World Cup 2018 culminates in the final, scheduled for July 15 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Brazil is favorite to lift the trophy after beating Germany in the final and taking out France in the semi-final, according to Goldman Sachs and others.