(Bloomberg) -- For stock traders in Hong Kong, an approaching typhoon has long meant the anticipation of an impromptu day off. No longer. The exchange operator just unveiled a plan to keep the local bourse open during severe weather.
From July, new procedures will allow trading to continue as normal regardless of weather conditions, under a proposal unveiled by Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. on Thursday. That includes new listings, derivatives trading as well as stock channels connecting the local market with those in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The plan marks an end to a complex series of arrangements that suspended trading depending on the severity and duration of weather warnings announced by the government, from strong wind signals to heavy rainfall alerts. It’s also a personal victory for HKEX Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Aguzin, who expressed bafflement that weather could trigger market closures after he took on the role in 2021.
There is an urgency for the shift. Officials are seeking to revive turnover on the $4.7 trillion bourse, the world’s fourth largest, in the wake of relentless selling by foreign investors. The benchmark Hang Seng Index is heading for a record fourth year of losses. There’s mainland Chinese pressure too. Local market closures halt stock connects linking Chinese domestic bourses with global capital.
“If Hong Kong shuts trading due to bad weather, not just our local market but the international and mainland Chinese investors will be restricted to access their respective markets,” said Wilfred Yiu, HKEX’s co-chief operating officer and head of equities. “We need a more enhanced trading arrangement to bolster further capital to participate in the Hong Kong market.”
Hong Kong is unusual among global financial hubs for its vulnerability to extreme weather. An average of six typhoons come within 500 km of Hong Kong annually. Bad weather forced the stock exchange to close four times this year, bringing the total since 2018 to 11, according to Yiu.
HKEX said it has agreed with the banking industry that relevant banking services will be made available to allow trading and clearing activities, as well as facilitate money transfers. Banks typically close when the local observatory raises its third-highest typhoon signal or its highest rainstorm warning.
Hong Kong Accelerates Push to Keep Markets Open During Typhoons
Safety remains a paramount concern, according to HKEX. As such all operations on what it calls Severe Weather Days will be performed remotely, with the provision of services via physical outlets discouraged, it said.
Market participants can comment on the plan until Jan. 26, HKEX said. The proposals will take six months to implement, allowing the new procedures to start in time for the next typhoon season, it said.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.