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Editorial:Typhoon Trading Finally Decided On

【明報專訊】The arrangements regarding stock trading during typhoons and other severe weather conditions have been finalised at last and will officially take effect from 23 September this year. In order to reinforce Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre, the city must move with the times and enhance its competitiveness. Across the globe, rarely does a major stock market shut down due to severe weather like in Hong Kong. With the advanced information technology of today, stock trading is mostly done online, and technically, remote operations would not be too difficult. Stock trading in Hong Kong should have kept up with the mainland and international markets long ago.

Discussions on continuing trading during severe weather have lasted for a long time, and there is no reason why a decision should not be made as a result. A preparation period of about three months is already more than sufficient. If individual small-sized brokers are unable to solve problems like remote operations in time, the authorities can provide them with technical support. However, it must also be pointed out clearly that if they still fail to keep up with the times, they will only become obsolete.

Since 2018, the Hong Kong stock market has suspended trading due to severe weather 11 times in total. Last year alone, that happened four times, of which three suspensions were for the whole day. In 2021, the then Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX) CEO Nicolas Aguzin frankly expressed his bewilderment at the closing of Hong Kong stock trading because of the black rainstorm signal. He remarked that the global finance industry was already used to working from home amid the pandemic, and Hong Kong should leverage what it has learnt to keep the stock market operating. Last November, the authorities launched a three-month consultation exercise, and the results showed that brokerage firms representing 90% of all market trading supported keeping the stock market open during severe weather.

HKEX said that the new arrangements will take effect from 23 September. Trading of Hong Kong stocks will be maintained regardless of a black rainstorm signal or a typhoon signal number eight or above. During that time, brokers will not provide services at physical outlets, and investors can use online trading and bank services.

At the beginning of the plan's implementation, if some small or medium-sized brokerage firms cannot arrange for their staff to work remotely during severe weather, they can apply for assistance from the authorities. HKEX will temporarily fulfil settlement and clearing obligations for qualified brokerage firms on the day with severe weather. However, they will be subject to trading restrictions and will not be able to increase the position size. This special arrangement will be available until the end of this year.

Hong Kong is a modern, cosmopolitan city. Even in adverse weather conditions, many industries will try to keep operating as far as circumstances allow. After three years of the pandemic, many companies and employees are fairly used to working from home. Nowadays, stock trading is already highly digitalised. Investors can buy and sell stocks using a mobile phone or a computer, and brokers do not necessarily have to go to the office for work. Not only is the traditional practice of market suspension during severe weather outdated, but also out of touch with the world.

Across the world, major financial markets rarely halt trading because of severe weather. Places like New York, London and Singapore certainly have no such practice. Even on the mainland, in Shenzhen and Shanghai, where typhoons also hit, stock markets do not close for this reason. As the connection between Hong Kong and mainland stock markets continues to deepen, if the markets on the mainland operate normally while the Hong Kong market halts and fails to match up, it will pose inconveniences to local, mainland and international investors.

明報社評 2024.06.19:打風不停市終有定案 看齊國際須與時並進

港股「打風不停市」安排終有定案,今年9月23日正式實施。香港要鞏固國際金融中心地位,必須與時並進提升競爭力。放眼環球主要市場,鮮有像香港般會因為惡劣天氣停市。今時今日資訊科技發達,絕大部分股市交易都是網上完成,遙距操作技術上亦無太大難度,港股交易早應與內地及國際市場看齊。

「打風不停市」討論多時,沒理由議而不決。3個月左右的準備期已相當足夠,個別小型券商若未能及時解決遙距操作等問題,當局可以提供技術支援,但必須同時清楚指出,再不追上時代發展,只會面臨淘汰。

2018年以來,本港股市因為惡劣天氣停市,合計有11次,單是去年便有4次,當中3次更須全日停市。2021年,港交所時任行政總裁歐冠昇對於港股因黑色暴雨天氣而休市,直言感到疑惑,認為疫下全球金融業已學會在家工作,本港應該利用所學,讓股票市場保持營運。去年11月,當局展開3個月諮詢,結果顯示佔市場交易總額約九成的券商,都支持「打風不停市」。

港交所表示,新安排9月23日起實施,不論黑雨還是8號或以上風球,均會維持港股交易,屆時券商將不設實體營運點,投資者可使用網上交易及銀行服務。

倘若方案初期,有中小型券商未能安排相關員工在惡劣天氣下以遙距方式工作,可以向當局申請支援,港交所會為合資格券商,於惡劣天氣當日暫代履行交收及結算責任,惟相關交易會有限制,不能進行加倉交易。這一特殊安排,適用期截至今年底。

香港是一個現代化國際都會,就算天氣惡劣,只要情况許可,很多行業都會設法保持營運。經過3年疫情,很多公司和僱員對於在家工作也相當適應。今時今日,證券交易已經高度電子化,投資者用手機或電腦就可買賣股票,經紀也不一定要返公司上班。「打風停市」這一傳統,不僅過時,更與世界脫節。

放眼環球主要金融市場,會因為惡劣天氣而停市者,可謂絕無僅有。紐約、倫敦、新加坡等地,固然沒有這樣的規定,即使在內地,深圳和上海一樣會打風,但股市亦不會為此停市。香港與內地股市互聯互通不斷深化,倘若內地股市正常運作,香港卻停市無法對接,對本港、內地以至國際投資者均造成不便。

/ Glossary生字 /

obsolete:no longer used because sth new has been invented

bewilderment:a feeling of being completely confused

halt:to stop; to make sb/sth stop

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