In the 31 years since it was opened, Hong Kong Stock Exchange has seen more money change hands, fortunes won and lost than any other place in Asia outside of Tokyo and Shanghai. Two decades ago, on a Friday morning like this hundreds of traders dressed in red coats but had been frantically taking orders in the exchange's trading hall. But today the floor is silent. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing will permanently shut the hall which originally accommodated more than 1,000 at the end of today's session when the city's remaining floor traders hang up their coats for the last time.
The exchange was launched in 1986, and the hall was the beating heart of Hong Kong security's broking business for well over a decade. Through the 1990s, trades performed on the floor accounted for more than 20% of the exchange's activity. But in recent years, the fire has been dwindling, and the figure has fallen to below 1%. Today the vast majority of the work is carried out remotely from inside banks and securities houses, leaving just a handful of brokers in the hall as it reaches its final hours of trading.
The decision to close the floor follows that of many other global exchanges such as London, Tokyo, and Singapore. Older traders who spent years in the building but long ago migrated to a desk in a securities house say the closure of the hall is the end of an era. But even the most diehard traditionalists admit that in a world of bank dominated trading the chaotic excitement of floor trading has lost its relevance. However, they might rue its passing. Don Weinland. Financial Times, Hong Kong.