Friday, 20 March 2020 - 8:16
Stock Exchange open for trading today - trading halted S & P index drops by 5%

Update : Within the first minutes of trading the stock market fell below 5% (-5.33%), triggering an automatic shutdown for 30 mts. 

Colombo Stock Exchange will open for trading today, after four sessions suspended amid Coronavirus outbreak.

Drastic and swift action from policymakers around the world failed to bring stability to the volatile financial markets on Thursday, with several stocks in Asia sinking while European and US indexes showed mixed reactions according to latest international reports

The only clear winner was the US dollar, which has surged as investors scramble for cash. The US dollar in Sri Lanka hit a record high. The Monetary board issued various directives to address this situation, (the directive is given below)

The European Central Bank stepped up its response announcing it would pump $821 billion to keep the financial system afloat. Bank of England announced another emergency interest rate cut.

The Korea Exchange briefly suspended trading in Seoul after markets there plummeted, tripping a circuit breaker. The benchmark Kospi (KOSPI) dropped 8.4%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 3.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 2.6%, while China's Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) slid 1%Japan's Nikkei 225 (N225) fell 1%. The Bank of Japan earlier offered to buy 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) worth of Japanese government bonds.

Reserve Bank of Australia has announced it would cut rates to 0.25%

The Central Bank news item published on Thursday, March 19, 2020 is given below;

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka Introduces Urgent Measures to Ease the Pressure on the Exchange Rate and Prevent Financial Market Panic due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

As per the provisions of the Monetary Law Act No. 58 of 1949, the Banking Act No. 30 of 1988, and the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka introduced several measures to ease the pressure on the exchange rate and prevent financial market panic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accordingly, licensed commercial banks and National Savings Bank have been directed to adopt the following measures during the next three months, with immediate effect:

  1. Suspend facilitating importation of all types motor vehicles, other than those excluded specifically under Banking Act Directions No.01 of 2020, under Letters of Credit
  2. Suspend facilitating importation of non-essential goods specified in Banking Act Directions No.01 of 2020, under Letters of Credit, Documents Against Acceptance and Advance Payment
  3. Suspend the purchase of Sri Lanka International Sovereign Bonds by licensed banks in Sri Lanka
  4. In addition, Authorised Dealers of foreign exchange are allowed to issue foreign currency notes as travel allowance only up to a maximum of USD 5,000 (or its equivalent in other foreign currency).

The Central Bank will continue to monitor market developments and take further measures as required, while ensuring adequate liquidity in the market in order to facilitate smooth operations and sustain market confidence amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

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