Philippines suspends financial markets

The Philippine Stock Exchange has closed indefinitely while currency and bond trading have been suspended, the first market shutdowns worldwide in response to the coronavirus, as authorities cite risks to the safety of traders.

The shutdown comes after some bourses around the world closed trading floors or paused trade after withering falls in market value, but it is the first blanket market halt.

And while it was done for health reasons, amid a broad lockdown in the Philippines, it raises the prospect other exchanges may follow and has drawn analysts' attention.

"Given the unprecedented speed of the slump in equity prices, it has been suggested that stock exchanges might be closed soon if things don't turn around," research house Capital Economics said in a note on Tuesday.

The Philippine Stock Exchange said trade was suspended until further notice "to ensure the safety of employees and traders," amid a broader national lockdown.

National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon cited the lockdown as the reason for the suspension of fixed income trade. Currency trading is to resume on March 18.

In Malaysia, where a similar lockdown comes into force on March 18, the securities regulator said all capital markets will operate as usual.

CME Group last week shut its storied trading floor in Chicago, to reduce large gatherings, and Mideast bourses have taken similar measures, though electronic trade remains available.

Kuwait's exchange has suspended trade at least twice this month, after daily falls of more than 10 per cent, while in Indonesia, Jakarta's bourse has introduced new circuit breakers which halt trading for half an hour if the main index falls 5 per cent.

That comes amid a swathe of short-selling restrictions in markets from South Korea to Italy and Spain.

Global markets are in meltdown as the pandemic spreads, with roughly $US14 trillion in shareholder value erased and even safe assets such as gold have been sold to cover losses.

The Philippines benchmark index fell 8 per cent on Monday and is down 20 per cent for March so far, already its worst since October 2008.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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