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Philippines suspends trading on stock exchange

Ankita Mukhopadhyay
March 17, 2020

Sri Lanka followed suit after the Philippines became the first country to close down its stock market. The PSE may resume operations on Thursday.

Stock market symbol
Image: picture-alliance/imageBROKER/S. Belcher

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Tuesday suspended trading operations. It is the first stock exchange in the world to close down owing to the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) outbreak. 

The closure will be in effect "until further notice to ensure the safety of employees and traders in light of the escalating cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)" said Ramon Monzon, president and CEO of the exchange.

The PSE said that its decision to halt operations was connected to a lockdown of the Philippines' main Luzon island, which is home to nearly 57 million people. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced Monday that the lockdown would continue till April 12.

Read more: Follow all the latest developments in our rolling coverage

Philippine people wear face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus
Philippine people wear face masks in church to protect themselves from coronavirusImage: Imago Images/Pacific Press Agency/J. Dacalanio

The PSE expects the closure of operations to ensure the safety of its employees and traders. The exchange had given an indication of slowing down operations in February, when it postponed all of its major activities in March. The PSE had also shortened its trading  hours from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from March 17 to April 14.

Sri Lanka soon followed the Philippines in closing its stock market. The closure is part of Sri Lanka's declaration of a public holiday on March 17, 18 and 19 owing to the coronavirus outbreak. Sri Lanka is yet to reveal whether it will keep its bourse closed on March 18 and 19 as well.

Read more: Coronavirus: Trump warns of possible recession, businesses urge 'aggressive' action

The closure of these two stock exchanges follows assurances from major stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that operations would continue as normal. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that US markets will remain open despite their worst performance Monday since 1987, and speculation that markets could stop trading.