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Bad weather keeps markets closed

Philippine financial markets were disrupted for the second straight day by incessant rains that flooded many parts of the National Capital Region and Luzon.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Tuesday initially issued an advisory at 5:40 a.m. that trading would resume after Monday’s suspension but this was recalled at 7:40 a.m. after the government suspended work at its offices, thereby halting clearing and settlement operations at the banking system.

Foreign exchange and bond trading was also suspended by the Bankers Association of the Philippines, citing lack of check clearing for the day, said BAP first vice president and open market committee chair Antonio Moncupa Jr., who is also president of East West Bank.

The suspension effectively shut down the local financial markets for three days this week as today is an official non-working holiday in celebration of Ninoy Aquino day.

On the other hand, the trading suspension allowed local markets to avoid the heavy beating taken by regional markets in the past two days as investors continued to favor developed markets at the expense of emerging markets.

Some banks immediately suspended work yesterday while others decided to open some branches.

It was a difficult dilemma for bankers: While the weather situation continued to deteriorate, client requirements might surge ahead of Wednesday’s holiday. Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and thrift bank unit RCBC Savings, Security Banking Corp., Land Bank of the Philip-

pines, China Bank, Veterans Bank and East West Bank opened branches in areas that were not affected by floods.

Some banks sent their employees home early, like RCBC and Landbank, which opened for business only until 12 noon.

On the other hand, BDO Unibank, United Coconut Planters Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Philippine National Bank, Union Bank of the Philippines and Asia United Bank suspended operations in the metropolis and affected areas of Luzon. Some head offices opened with just a few personnel. Philippine Savings Bank closed affected Metro Manila branches but all other branches were opened to serve clients.

Meanwhile, major shopping mall operators SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land Inc., Robinsons Land Corp. and Megaworld Corp. opened their malls for business. In the case of SM, shopping malls in SM Bacoor (Cavite) and SM City Manila did not open for business due to flooding in surrounding areas. It was also business as usual for the grocery chain operated by Puregold Price Club Inc.  Doris C. Dumlao


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