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SAR needs normal stock trading in severe weather

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SAR needs normal stock trading in severe weather

By Kacee Ting Wong

To maintain the competitive edge of Hong Kong’s stock market, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced earlier that the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX) will study proposals to explore arrangements for maintaining operation of the market during inclement weather so as to dovetail with the global market trend. On July 17, the stock market was closed because a No 8 typhoon warning signal was hoisted. The disruption brought about by Typhoon Talim also affected Northbound Stock Connect trading and the stock debut of New Media Lab. It’s imperative that the HKEX bend flexibly with the global winds of change and allow stock trading to remain normal during typhoons and rainstorms.

The proposal to explore arrangements for maintaining normal market operation under inclement weather was first raised by HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin soon after he assumed office in 2021. Although the proposal has not attracted much attention, Aguzin has consistently tried to keep Hong Kong’s stock market on the same page as other major stock markets around the world. It’s worth noting that the global finance industry adjusted to allow for remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Typhoon-driven disruption to stock trading is an alien concept in rival financial hub Singapore. The fact that the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has never halted stock trading because of weather-related events is a strong reason for HKEX to speed up a review of its stock market operation under inclement weather. We should keep our finger on the pulse of financial market players, many of whom believe Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong as Asia’s top financial center.

Equally of concern is the fact that the HKEX has listed 15 market holidays in 2023. The SGX, on the other hand, has only 11 holidays in 2023. A mindset shift is needed to ensure that the willpower to sharpen its competitive edge is deeply implanted in the subconsciousness of the HKEX.

According to Aguzin, the HKEX has to balance the interests of the people and the security and safety of the people (Hong Kong’s Stock Market Halts Trade When a Typhoon Warning Is Issued — The CEO Says That May Change, CNBC, Nov 2, 2022). At present, there is no law relating to work arrangements in case of adverse weather in Hong Kong. Although the Labour Department’s Code of Practice during Typhoons and Rainstorms provides practical guidelines for employers and employees, it is not legally binding and does not mention work-from-home arrangements in case of adverse weather.

In spite of the fact that most trading orders are now received and executed electronically, some staff members of brokerages may still be required to return to the office during inclement weather. Disputes between employers and employees are inevitable because a “bad-weather holiday” is often regarded as a norm in the local labor market. Besides, traffic disruptions will add new complexities to the complicated issue of special working arrangements during inclement weather.

To remedy the above defects, employers and employees should negotiate a feasible deal to accommodate the proposed trade-normalizing arrangement under adverse weather. A move to maintain normal stock trading during severe weather conditions will most probably affect the operations of small stock brokerages. With limited resources, small brokerages will have no option but to stretch themselves to the limit in order to maintain trading, settlement and delivery in adverse weather conditions. It’s also expected that labor-insurance costs will rise.

If, as is more likely, smaller brokers still fail to settle on time, special arrangements should be made to ease their concerns. For example, the HKEX should allow smaller brokerages to delay settlement and delivery even as trading is kept open. Although the city’s 521 smaller brokerages currently handle less than 5 percent of the trading volume on the exchange, we still need to take care of the interests of the small investors by facilitating the smooth operation of smaller brokerages, which mainly serve small investors.

The advantages of maintaining normal trading during bad weather outweigh the disadvantages. In addition to the pressing need to dovetail with the global trend, we must consider the estimated loss of HK$5 billion ($639 million) a day on average whenever the city shuts down its stock market (The Standard, July 18, 2023). More importantly, typhoon-driven disruption to stock trading may make the market more volatile and increase the potential risks for investors.

While stock trading was halted on July 17, the electronic trading platform of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange (CGSE) remained open for a full trading day in spite of the typhoon. Like the stock market, the open outcry trading was closed by the CGSE on that date. The CGSE, which was established in 1910, is among the few exchanges in the world that have both open outcry and an electronic trading platform.

To conclude, maintaining normal stock-market operation during severe weather is vital to the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s securities market, especially when extreme-weather days are rising because of climate change. The SGX, a competitor of HKEX, has maintained normal trading during adverse weather. There is no reason why the HKEX couldn’t. 

The author is a barrister, part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, and chairman of Chinese Dream Think Tank.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

【CDTT Newspaper Article】Kacee Ting:SAR needs normal stock trading in severe weather (China Daily HK Edition, 21 Aug 2023)

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/346786#SAR-needs-normal-stock-trading-in-severe-weather

PDF
https://www.chinadailyhk.com/epaper/pubs//chinadaily/2023/08/21/07.pdf

Chinese Dream Think Tank is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organization working with skilled volunteers, experts and professionals who are passionate about telling the China story well.

This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

中國夢智庫| 風雨不改,「港交所」網上見! 

前些日子,財政司司長陳茂波先生承諾保持特區股票市場在國際領域的競爭優勢,堅定不移地宣佈「香港交易及結算所有限公司」(「港交所」)將探討優化交易機制建議,包括探索市場在惡劣天氣下繼續運作安排、檢視自行成交防範功能及相關限制,以便利投資者交易和配合市場發展趨勢(註1)。7月17日,颱風「泰利」襲港不但癱瘓「港交所」當日的日常交易,而且影響「滬港通及深港通」運作與「新傳企劃有限公司」上市「港交所」主板計劃。2014年11月9日,習近平主席在發言中提及一句話「… 疾風知勁草…」(註2),「港交所」須靈活順應全球變化之風,在颱風與疾風暴雨、風雨飄搖期間,站好崗。

「港交所」前行政總裁歐冠昇先生(Nicolas Aguzin)於2021年履新不久,首次提出探討在惡劣天氣下股票交易市場運作正常化安排的建議。雖然該提案並未引起太多關注,但歐先生一直嘗試將「港交所」與全球其他主要股市保持同步。大家注意,相關建議可行,在 COVID-19大流行爆發期間,全球金融業已渡過遠程工作模式適應期。

全球金融中心之一的新加坡是咱們的競爭對手,但股票交易因颱風來襲而停市,最多只是新加坡人們心中那種發生在猴年馬月已塵封的舊事。新加坡從未因天氣相關事件而停止「新加坡交易所」(「新交所」)交易活動。因此,「港交所」在惡劣天氣下延續股市交易運作機制是否應再議?大家齊來掐指一算,許多國際金融從業者早將新加坡視亞洲頂級金融中心,特區只能貼前車尾隨。

同樣美中不足的還有一點。「港交所」在2023年休市放假15個工作日。相比之下,「新交所」只休息了10天(註3)。正所謂多勞多得、確保與提高特區金融競爭優勢的意志力培養,「港交所」可能需要轉變一下思維方式。

根據歐先生的說法,「港交所」必須平衡股民的利益與全體市民在惡劣天氣下的安全(註4)。至今為止,特區無有針對在惡劣天氣情況下工作安排立法。雖然勞工處的《颱風及暴雨情況下工作守則》( 《守則》)(註5)為僱主與雇員提供實用指引,但《守則》不具法律約束力,亦未能關注到在惡劣天氣下居家工作的安排。

「打風放假」在特區已被視為常態。儘管現在絕大多數「港交所」交易指令都運用電子方式接收與執行,但經紀公司仍要求某些工作人員需要在惡劣天氣下返回辦公室工作。因此,僱主與雇員之間不時因相關時段工作安排發生糾紛。此外,惡劣天氣情況嚴重影響交通安排,這個問題令相關工作特別安排的複雜度大大提升。

為改善上述工作安排缺陷,僱主與雇員應進行協商,共同努力締造出可行適應在惡劣天氣下展開金融市場交易正常化安排的協定。解決問題需要考慮眾多因素,比如說交易正常化安排很可能會影響到小型股票經紀公司的運作。在資源有限的情況下,這些小型股票經紀公司只有運用已有的僅存資源以維持在惡劣天氣情況下進行交易、結算與交割。還有,相關勞動保險費用也需要考慮在內。

再者,特區現有521家小型券商只處理5%的每日交易量,但是它們共同維護着小投資者的集體利益。在新安排下一些業務較少的經紀可能不能按時結算。因此,應為他(她)們度身訂造特殊安排以減輕這些經紀的顧慮。比如說「港交所」可允許小券商在交易進行中延遲結算與交割。

一個不爭的事實是「港交所」停市一天將損失約50億港元(註6)。因「打風放假」所產生的股票交易中斷可能會使金融市場更加波動,增加投資者所要承受的潛在風險。因此,在惡劣天氣下為常態化交易開綠燈是利遠遠大於弊。「港交所」與全球市場趨勢中步有其迫切性。還有的是成立於1910年的「金銀業貿易場」(Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange)(CGSE)(註7),它是現時世界少有仍然保留公開喊價形式交易產品的平台與電子形式交易平台。雖然特區股票交易於7月17日停止,CGSE電子交易平台仍在風暴中依然全天運作。

同樣地,特區眾多特業管理公司在惡劣天氣下禁止訪客自由出入其管理的物業範圍。筆者認為,不應因颱風或暴雨造成的干擾而禁止地產代理「帶客睇樓」,一個理想的替代方案是允許房地產經紀人與潛在買家在特殊情況下可進行網絡視頻「睇樓」。潛在買家可以居家中以安全角度查房,避免重新安排驗房日期。

推行在惡劣天氣保持金融交易的建議對特區整體有利。為跟緊全球金融業的發展趨勢,大家不僅要防範與氣候變化有關的極端天氣事件對特區金融所產的可預見風險,還應進行相對應的自我調整。總而言之,「新交所」是咱們的競爭對手同時也可以成為「港交所」的楷模。「新交所」最重要的安排是在惡劣天氣下,它堅定不移地承諾保持穩定的交易制度。「港交所」也要風雨不改,網上見!

註 1: 陳茂波《2023-24年財政年度 政府財政預算案》的演辭 2023年2月22星期三 at §91 available at: https://www.budget.gov.hk/2023/chi/pdf/c_budget_speech_2023-24.pdf
註 2: 唐太宗李世民《賜蕭瑀》available at: https://baike.baidu.hk/item/賜蕭瑀/6758871
註 3: SGX Trading Hours and Market Holidays 2023 available at: https://www.tradinghours.com/markets/sgx#regualr-trading-schedule
註 4: Jihye Lee「Hong Kong’s stock market halts trade when a typhoon warning is issued – the CEO says that may change
Asia Market in CNBC 02.11.2022 「We have to balance the interest of the people, the security of the people, safety of the people,
available at: https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2022/11/03/hkex-ceo-discusses-trading-halt-rules-as-typhoon-warning-ends-session-early.html
註 5: 勞工處《颱風及暴雨情況下工作守則》available at: https://www.labour.gov.hk/tc/public/pdf/wcp/Rainstorm.pdf
註 6: Staff reporter and Bloomberg「Stormy weather washes away $5 billion a day

Money glitz 18.07.2023 available at: https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/50021565/254304/Stormy-weather-washes-away-$5-billion-a-day
註 7: 維基百科「金銀業貿易場」available at: https://zh.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/金銀業貿易場

文:丁煌
深圳大學基本法研究中心兼職研究員
經民聯港島支部主席,「中國夢智庫」主席
香港薈萃協會法律顧問,城市智庫成員
國際公益法律服務協會顧問委員會成員
全國港澳研究會會員

《中國夢智庫》是一間扎根特區的非牟利團體;與心存熱誠的資深義工、專家與職業專業人士們合作,攜手「說好中國故事」。

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