ASE to extend trading hours from October 2, CEO says

The Athens Stock Exchange will extend trading hours next month, opening an hour earlier in an effort to better synchronize with international stock markets, its chief executive said yesterday. «Trading on the Athens Stock Exchange lasts only five-and-a-half hours. The exchange’s board will vote on a proposal to extend trading by one hour and start at 10.30 a.m. (0730 GMT),» Hellenic Exchanges CEO Spyros Capralos told reporters. He said the move, which will go into effect October 2, is intended to boost international interest in Greek stocks and bring the exchange more closely in line with other European bourses. Under the new setup, the exchange will open at 0730 GMT after a 30-minute preopening period when traders can input orders, and will close at 4.30 p.m. (1330 GMT). The move will make it easier for investors elsewhere in Europe to trade its stocks. The bourse will also extend trading hours for smaller-capitalization stocks, Capralos said. Currently, only the exchange’s large-capitalization shares, worth more than 100 million euros ($117.6 million), trade for the whole of the five-and-a-half hours. The bourse’s more than 200 mid- and small-cap listings currently trade for one hour, from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., pause and then resume from 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. This will change from October 2 as small- and mid-cap listings will start trading from 10.30 a.m. to noon, pause and then resume from 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. «We believe the changes will not reduce volume,» Capralos said. «When stores are open, someone can come in and do some shopping.» On the common trading platform it is pursuing with the Cyprus exchange, a project dogged by delays, Capralos said final tests including mock trading would take place on Monday. Thereafter, the two exchanges will evaluate the system’s readiness. «I am no longer worried; completion of the project is a given,» he said, adding that five Cypriot brokers had already applied to become remote members of the Athens exchange. The linkup is expected to essentially merge trading on the two bourses, giving the much smaller Cypriot market more visibility to a pool of institutional investors in Greece.