January 13th, 2012
06:28 AM GMT
Hong Kong (CNN) – While ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests perceived excesses of the capital markets, brokers in Hong Kong took to the streets Thursday to demonstrate against cuts in the length of their lunch break.
About 1,000 brokers, stock exchange staff and restaurant workers spent their 90-minute lunch break protesting against plans to cut their lunch hour to – well, an hour. Until last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange had a two-hour lunch break – the longest in the world for major bourses.
Exchange officials say the move, which is planned for implementation in March, is to keep the exchange competitive with other major exchanges. Japan and Singapore made similar moves last year to reduce the time their exchanges are closed to trading for lunch.
“Trading securities is not just an individual playing at the computer like a game – you need to communicate with clients and close out your latest sales,” Lam said. “We have more individual clients than (other markets).”
Indeed, the people of Hong Kong like to play the stock market – about 35% of the city’s 7 million residents own shares, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. In 2006, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing reported that 28.3% of residents actively traded stocks during the year.
But the proportion of local investors as a ratio of total trading appears to be declining. According to a February 2011 report from the exchange, only 44% of transactions in 2010 were from local investors, down from 50% the year before and the lowest level since the transaction survey started in 1991.
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