HK Stock Exchange trading floor closes doors, replaced by electronic trading

Global Business

It’s the end of an era in Hong Kong. The city’s stock exchange is shutting down its historic trading hall.

Once a raucous place packed with high-energy traders, it had been reduced to nearly a ghost town as electronic trading took over.

CGTN’s Katie Sargent reports.

Hundreds of people crowded onto the floor of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Friday for a bittersweet farewell party. Traders, brokers, government officials and others gathered said goodbye to the city’s historic trading hall. It’s shutting down, having outlived its purpose in this day of electronic and internet trading.

The trading floor opened in 1986. In its heyday, over 1,400 traders, sporting the requisite red vests, crowded into the booths. One former trader said back then you needed a loud voice, a clear memory and a good relationship with other traders to get deals done. They worked on the floor through the 1987 Black Monday crash, the dot-com bubble, the SARS outbreak and other historic market events.

Electronic trading was introduced in 1993, and a major upgrade in 2000 let brokers offer services online. Those advances ultimately made floor trading obsolete. Recently only about 30 traders worked on the floor, and the atmosphere was much more subdued.

Friday’s event was tinged with nostalgia, as former traders returned for one last look.

“It’s a shame. I grew up here. I’ve been here from the start,” said Chan Pui-yee, a former broker.

The closure of the Hong Kong trading floor means the New York Stock Exchange is the only one among major word exchange to still have a floor.

Hong Kong exchange officials don’t want their city’s history as a commercial and financial hub to be forgotten. Once the traders move out, renovators will move in to remake the space into a museum and convention and exhibition center.

“We’re all looking to the future. We’re going to convert this into something that not only reminds us of the great memories and great history that we have had, but also allow us to proceed into the future and allow this place, right in the heart of Hong Kong, to become a real landmark of the financial community in Hong Kong,” said Charles LI, HKEX Chief Executive.

It will be called the Hong Kong Connect Hall and will open in February 2018.