Asia News Mar 19

Philippine stocks plunge 24% after virus trading halt

Shares down after 2-day break, but index recovered half its losses by lunch

by AFP
Philippine stocks plunge nearly 25% after virus trading halt
Jose Pardo, centre, chairman of the Philippine Stock Exchange, makes a toast with officials to mark the opening of the PSE's new building in Taguig City in Manila.Shares plunged by nearly 25 percent on March 19 after a two-day suspension prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Ted Aljibe / AFP

MANILA: Philippine shares plunged by nearly 25% on Thursday only moments after the Manila stock exchange resumed trade following a two-day trading suspension prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Southeast Asian nation was the first in the world to indefinitely suspend trading after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered more than half of its population to stay home for the next month.

Manila's bourse had suspended operations "until further notice" in response but quickly recalled its order and reopened the market on Thursday after the government exempted it from the lockdown. 

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 24% from Monday's close just seconds after the opening bell, triggering a 15-minute trading halt. 

It was allegedly the largest fall on record for the benchmark. 

"We were kind of expecting that the market would open quite low, especially after a two-day halt in trading," exchange president Ramon Monzon said. 

Monzon said he was in talks with Philippine regulators to implement new measures to stem market volatility, which could include additional intraday trading suspensions.

The index pared back losses in later morning trade and was down 11.9% shortly before the lunch break.

The Philippines has recorded 202 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 17 deaths.

AFP