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It might be working Saturdays for Indian stock exchanges

Last updated on: January 12, 2012 12:37 IST

It might be working Saturdays for Indian stock exchanges

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N Sundaresha Subramanian in Mumbai

Your five-day week may be history. So, could be your Saturday siesta. If some quiet brainstorming in big board rooms crystallises, equity market participants may have to put in an extra day at office every week.

At present, equity markets are open from 9 am to 3.30 pm on weekdays. Other segments operated by stock exchanges such as currency derivatives and interest rate futures are also shut on Saturday and Sunday.

Stock exchanges are said to be toying with the idea of opening a regular trading window on Saturdays. The window may be for a shorter duration, in line with the Saturday banking hours.

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It might be working Saturdays for Indian stock exchanges

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"The market is divided. Half the participants say it is good and half are opposed to it. We will do it when the market really wants it," says a senior exchange official. He predicts a lot of initial resistance to the move.

The buzz got intense after the exchanges conducted a special trading session in the futures & options segment last Saturday. Globally, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the leader in derivatives, is open even on Sundays and holidays. E-mini S&P Nifty, which trades on the CME Globex platform, also operates on Sundays.

"Already, the banking system works on Saturdays. Even the commodities markets are open. So, it is only logical the stock market remains open. They seem to be working towards that," says a senior official with a local brokerage.

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While it could severely hit the work-life balance of individuals, the extension could help expand the business base for all market participants, including exchanges, brokers and trading platforms, amid shrinking volumes.

Detractors ask if volumes are scarce on five weekdays, where would they emerge from on the sixth? "Have the extended hours helped? You can't force people to trade by keeping markets open. Does this mean if you keep it open round the clock, volumes will double?

People will trade when they want to. I am not in favour of the move," says a former office bearer of an industry forum. He feels expenses will increase without a commensurate increase in volumes.

Officials say the proposal is still in the initial stages and would require a Sebi clearance. The last time when such an extension was proposed, it took more than a year for its final implementation.

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Image: Officials say the proposal is still in the initial stages and would require a Sebi clearance.

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It might be working Saturdays for Indian stock exchanges

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In late 2008, National Stock Exchange (NSE), the leader in volumes, had forwarded a request from market participants to start trading at 8 am, nearly two hours ahead of the earlier opening time of 9.55 am.

The move would help exchanges absorb global shocks better and smoothen the gap-up openings, it was reasoned. After much consideration, in October 2009, the regulator allowed exchanges to fix their timings between 9 am and 5 pm.

Even then the exchanges did not go ahead immediately, as there were protests and concerns from market participants worried about increasing overheads and physical stress.

In December 2009, Bombay Stock Exchange took the plunge by extending trading hours by 10 minutes. NSE went the whole hog by extending it to 9 am soon after. Eventually, both exchanges decided to start at 9 am. The section opposed to it had to fall in line.




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