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Hong Kong Stock Trading Floor to Close 10/20 06:09

   HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's last remaining stock market floor traders are 
taking their final orders as the exchange prepares to shut its trading hall, 
joining other world exchanges in going fully automated.

   The bourse's operator, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, says it will close 
the trading hall by the end of the month and turn the space into a showcase for 
the city's financial markets.

   Yip Wing-keung, a trading manager at brokerage Christfund Securities, donned 
his red trading jacket for the last time Friday, his final day on the floor. He 
and the other few floor traders left have been moving out ahead of the closure.

   The shutdown marks the end of an era for the stock market, which symbolized 
the city's ascent as an Asian finance hub. Activity on the floor, one of a few 
such venues left worldwide, dwinded as stock dealing became fully computerized.

   "I feel sadness and regret," said Yip, who has been a floor trader since the 
hall was opened in 1986 after four previous exchanges were merged. "Hong Kong 
is one of the world's financial centers, but if we don't have the stock market 
trading hall, it will be a little sorrowful. This is my own individual 
reflection."

   Yip said the floor traders resisted the closure. They sent a protest letter 
to the government but it was in vain.

   "We wrote it but were overruled," he said. "We can't stop the times from 
changing."

   Hong Kong's stock exchange, Asia's third biggest by volume, follows other 
global peers like Tokyo, Singapore and London that have eliminated their 
trading floors

   In the U.S., floor traders at the New York Stock Exchange still provide the 
backdrop for financial TV news reports and bell-ringing ceremonies. But Chicago 
and New York commodity futures trading pits, where traders used old-fashioned 
"open outcry" techniques, have shut in recent years as volume fell to 1 percent 
of the total.

   Hong Kong Exchanges stopped updating stats for floor trading in 2014, when 
it accounted for less than 1 percent of monthly turnover.

   In the 1980s and 1990s the hall housed more than 900 trading desks. The 
exchange's most recent count showed only 62 dealing desks were leased, with 
about 30 traders showing up on an average day. On a visit to the hall this 
week, only about seven traders could be seen.

   Back in its heyday, floor trading was computer-assisted but dealers still 
needed to talk to each other to complete transactions, either by phone or in 
person, depending on how far away they sat from each other, Yip said.

   "If they were too far you had to use the internal phone line, but If you 
couldn't get through, you had to run over to them," he said. "So you saw lots 
of people running back and forth."

   These days, Yip just punches orders into his computer.

   "Now it's more comfortable" but relationships with other traders are not as 
good as they used to be, said Yip.

   He doesn't look forward to returning to his head office.

   "It won't be so free," he said. 


(KA)

 
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