The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will remain operational throughout South Africa’s 21-day lockdown.  Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will remain operational throughout South Africa’s 21-day lockdown. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

JSE to remain operational during lockdown

By Edward West Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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CAPE TOWN -  The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will remain operational throughout South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, which will be implemented from midnight on Thursday.

JSE Group CEO Leila Fourie said the bourse was constantly monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuously engaging with National Treasury, the Prudential Authority and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

The bourse  had already moved close to 90 percent of its employees out of the exchange to work remotely. 

Critical staff would work from the exchange should the need arise to enable the JSE to seamlessly trade, clear, settle and disseminate information. Normal trading hours would be maintained, she said.

“As many companies enter lockdown, their operations and cashflow will come under a huge amount of pressure. During this time the exchange will play an essential role, enabling price transparency, trading out of positions and providing access to capital. As a destination for international investment, the JSE must ensure that the channels remain open and integrated into major global exchanges and OTC markets,” said Fourie.

The JSE, as noted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the nation on Monday 23 March 2020, is an essential service providing critical market infrastructure and maintaining economic momentum, said Fourie.

“The depth and liquidity of capital markets ensures the financial sector can support the real economy during times of crisis, which is important in the current situation where the level of volatility has been comparable to the global financial crisis of 2008, with one-day losses approaching levels last seen during the Asian crisis of 1997,” she said,

The JSE had already begun proactively implementing business continuation plans as early as February, when staff travel was first limited, culminating in an international travel embargo  in early March, while all events had been cancelled from March 18, when all meetings and listed company training moved online.

The exchange has made changes to its circuit breakers that trigger temporary halts in securities trading during market volatility. 

“These have proven to be valuable mechanisms which will continue to be monitored and further reviewed, if the situation warrants,” she said.

Fourie said the JSE would take strong and decisive action against any instance of naked short-selling, including restricting the particular member’s trading activities, if the exchange believed that a member was trading in a manner that put the market at risk.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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