Hong Kong to keep stock market open during typhoons

City leader John Lee says move will strengthen competitiveness of the Asian financial hub.

Hong Kong stock market
Hong Kong's stock market has for decades shut down during periods of extreme weather [Isaac Lawrence/AFP]

Hong Kong is set to end its decades-long practice of shutting the stock market during typhoons and extreme weather.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said the change was widely supported by the financial sector and would bring the financial hub in line with other markets, including mainland China.

“Shenzhen and Shanghai are now trading in bad weather. There is no reason why Hong Kong, as an international financial centre, should not follow suit,” Lee told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Non-stop trading in inclement weather can strengthen the competitiveness of the Hong Kong Exchange,” he added.

Hong Kong regularly experiences typhoons between June and October, but officials have warned residents to expect more powerful and unpredictable storms in the future due to climate change.

Hong Kong authorities last year issued the city’s highest weather alert – T10 – for only the 16th time since World War II, for Super Typhoon Saola.

Last year’s 11 storms of typhoon intensity or higher, however, was fewer than the average of about 15 between 1961 and 2020, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

Hong Kong’s stock market has suffered huge losses in recent years amid slowing growth in China and crackdowns on dissent in the semi-autonomous territory, which was promised rights and freedoms not found on the Chinese mainland as a condition of its handover from Britain.

The benchmark Hang Seng index ended 2023 13.8 percent lower, registering its fourth consecutive year of decline.

Since 2019, the index has fallen by more than 38 percent, even as stock markets in the United States, Japan and India have soared.

In January, India’s stock market overtook Hong Kong to become the fourth-largest equity market globally, according to data from the World Federation of Exchanges.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies