HKEx closes iconic trading floor as it goes all-electric

HKEx closes iconic trading floor as it goes all-electric

The iconic Trading Hall in the Hong Kong Exchange, which has stood through the 1997 Asia financial crash, SARS and countless boom and busts, has closed for the final time today as it became the latest stock exchange to adopt electronic trading throughout.

Hong Kong Exchange & Clearing (HKEx) was formed in 1986 to consolidate the trading of four local bourses onto one trading floor. However, the decision in 1996 to allow brokers to host a trading terminal on their own premises paved the way for a gradual migration from the exchange's trading floor. 

In 2000 the exchange launched a new order matching system to allow online trading and also removed the cap on how much trading could take place off-exchange. Six years later the trading hall was renovated and went from more than 900 trading booth to less than 300. 

Trading volumes on the floor also dwindled. In 2014, the last time the exchange bothered to publish figures for on-floor trading, it accounted for just 0.2% of total turnover. 

Consequently the decision to close the trading floor was inevitable and follows the example of countless other exchanges internationally, including the London Stock Exchange and in Asia Pacific, including Tokyo and Singapore. 

The New York Stock Exchange still retains its trading floor, even if the daily bell-rining to signal the start of trading is more for the benefit of television and marketing than the member brokers and dealers. 

However, human trading may not be entirely dead quite yet. The BOX Options Exchange, owned by Canadian group TMX, has stated its belief that face-face floor-based trading can help derivatives traders get a better view of liquidity and prices and has recently won approval to open a trading floor in Chicago.

But as the HKEx closes the doors on its trading hall for the last time, the rumours suggest that it is going to fully embrace the rise in algorithmic and high frequency traders (HFTs).

According to a report by Bloomberg, the HKEx is planning to petition the city to remove stamp duty on exchange transactions, thus making it more attractive to the HFTs trading in high volume. 

And in January, the exchange announced plans for an overhaul of its systems that could include greater use of blockchain and cloud technology in its post-trade services.


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