S’pore traders to skip lunch for bigger regional bite

Monday, 24 January 2011 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SINGAPORE: Singapore Exchange (SGX), operator of the city’s derivatives and securities market, will scrap its midday trading break from March as it seeks to increase its regional role.

Australia, South Korea, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh already operate without a lunch interval. Singapore’s trading day runs from 9 am to 12:30 pm local time, followed by a 90-minute break and an afternoon session between 2 pm and 5 pm.

“To require staff to work without a break is a little taxing on the dealers,” said Chan Tuck Sing, executive director of UOB-Kay Hian, a unit of Singapore’s second-biggest lender. “There could be a higher incidence of error and it could also increase their stress levels. That’s not good for the health.” Singapore Exchange, Asia’s eighth-largest equity market, announced in October an A$8.4 billion ($8.3 billion) takeover bid for ASX, Australia’s main exchange operator.

Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing’s Hutchison Whampoa said on Tuesday it plans to list some of its port assets in Singapore in what may be the city’s biggest-ever share offering. Singapore is Asia’s largest oil-trading hub and is the world’s second-busiest container port after being overtaken by Shanghai last year.

The decision to cancel the adjournment was made after a consultation from October 19 through November 9 revealed support for the change from investors and broking firms, bourse spokeswoman Magdalyn Liew said. Details of the feedback received during the consultation won’t be released publicly, she said.

By eliminating the pause for lunch, Singapore Exchange is going further than larger rivals. The Tokyo Stock Exchange said on November 24, it will shorten its midday break to 1 hour from 90 minutes. That followed the announcement by the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, operator of Asia’s third-biggest stock market, on November 22 of plans to cut its two-hour adjournment in half and start trading 30 minutes earlier.

“Investors are constantly seeking trading opportunities, and continuous all-day securities trading will provide more avenues for participants to invest, hedge and arbitrage their investments,” bourse chief executive officer Magnus Bocker said. “This will make Singapore one of the most accessible markets in Asia and in the world.”

The change will also align Singapore trading more closely to that of ASX, which operates from 10 a.m. through 4:10 pm local time in Sydney without a break. The Singapore bourse said the Australian antimonopoly regulator had no objection to the bid.