JSE to remain operational throughout South Africa's 21-day lockdown

CEO Leila Fourie says that during this uncertain time the exchange will play an essential role.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has announced that it will remain fully operational throughout South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, which will be implemented from midnight on Thursday, 26 March. 

JSE group CEO Leila Fourie said that the bourse was constantly monitoring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, continuously engaging with National Treasury, the Prudential Authority and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). 

The JSE had already moved close to 90 percent of its employees out of the exchange to work remotely. Critical staff will be able to work from the exchange should the need arise to enable the JSE to seamlessly trade, clear, settle and disseminate information. Normal trading hours will be maintained.

“As many companies enter lockdown, their operations and cashflow will come under a huge amount of pressure. During this time the exchange will play an essential role, enabling price transparency, trading out of positions and providing access to capital. As a destination for international investment, the JSE must ensure that the channels remain open and integrated into major global exchanges and OTC markets,” she said.

The JSE is an essential service providing critical market infrastructure and maintaining economic momentum, she added. 

“The depth and liquidity of capital markets ensures the financial sector can support the real economy during times of crisis, which is vitally important in the current situation where the level of volatility has been comparable to the global financial crisis of 2008, with one-day losses approaching levels last seen during the Asian crisis of 1997.”

Leila warned that the JSE would take strong and decisive action against any instance of naked short-selling, including restricting the particular member’s trading activities, if the exchange believed that a member was trading in a manner that put the market at risk.
 
“Under the current market conditions, market participants need to maintain confidence in the ability of their counterparts to meet all of their settlement obligations,” she concluded.