SGX traders may get lunch break back soon

The proposal is that the market will take a breather from noon to 1pm. Trading will restart at around the same time as key markets such as Hong Kong.
The proposal is that the market will take a breather from noon to 1pm. Trading will restart at around the same time as key markets such as Hong Kong.PHOTO: ST FILE

Lunch may be back on the menu for Singapore Exchange (SGX) traders, according to most of them.

The once-hallowed midday break that was axed amid much ire in 2011 looks like it will be reinstated.

The proposal is that the market will take a breather from noon to 1pm, a slight variation from the old system, when trading ceased at 12.30pm before resuming at 2pm. Trading will then restart at around the same time as key markets such as Hong Kong.

"At eight hours, Singapore has the longest trading hours in Asia. Most are in the five- to six-hour range," said Mr Nico Torchetti, SGX's senior vice-president and head of market services. "Investors will still be able to place, amend or cancel orders during the break, and the SGX will publish an indicative equilibrium price based on orders received."

He noted that the break will retain significant overlap in trading hours with key markets in Asia, and also manage "gap risk", which is when prices open significantly lower or higher than their most recent closing, because of a major event in a key overseas market.

"Companies can make use of the break to make announcements without calling for a trading halt, Mr Torchetti added.

Remisier Desmond Leong said: "Taking away the lunch break didn't result in higher trading volume. Instead, it made the market more lethargic, and the remisiers very tired because they had to monitor the market all day, even during lunch.

"The brokerage can save some costs because traders won't have to do shift rotations during lunch... It also gives us a chance to network and meet our clients."

Mr David Kuo, chief executive of The Motley Fool Singapore, said: "Many markets in Asia close for lunch, so why should Singapore stay open?"

Grace Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'SGX traders may get lunch break back soon'. Print Edition | Subscribe