World’s youngest stock mar­ket strug­gles in Myan­mar

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The day’s trad­ing is about to be­gin on the world’s youngest stock ex­change, and the MYANPIX in­dex and open­ing share prices flash across an elec­tronic screen, but barely a footfall or a voice are heard within the cav­ernous, colo­nial era build­ing in the bustling heart of Myan­mar’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal. A gilded bell hangs silently above the al­most empty floor, en­graved with a sin­gle word: “Suc­cess.”

Not yet. Only three com­pa­nies are listed on the board and at the end of the day just 7,221 shares were traded, com­pared with nearly 839 mil­lion the same day on the New York Stock Ex­change. Since the YSE, a joint ven­ture be­tween Myan­mar, Ja­pan’s Daiwa In­sti­tute of Re­search and the Ja­pan Ex­change Group, be­gan trad­ing in March, only 20,000 in­vestors have ven­tured into the mar­ket. Reg­u­la­tors com­plain that those who do take the plunge rely largely on ru­mors, herd psy­chol­ogy and even the stars.

Martin Zhang, an ac­count ex­ec­u­tive with KBZ Stir­ling Cole­man Se­cu­ri­ties, said one client of­fered him an as­tro­log­i­cal chart to help guide his in­vest­ment de­ci­sions. The Am­s­ter­dam stock mar­ket, the world’s first, opened its doors 428 years ago. The New York Stock Ex­change, the world’s largest, was born in 1817, Thet Htun Oo, se­nior man­ager of the Yangon ex­change, re­minded a re­cent group of vis­it­ing jour­nal­ists.

“We are only a seven-month-old baby,” he said. A half-cen­tury of harsh mil­i­tary rule in this South­east Asian coun­try of 55 mil­lion brought eco­nomic ruin and iso­la­tion from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and global fi­nan­cial trends. But Myan­mar re­mains a cor­nu­copia of nat­u­ral re­sources, and it is wel­com­ing for­eign in­vest­ment as one of Asia’s last eco­nomic fron­tiers. The for­mer Bri­tish colony’s eco­nomic growth is forecast at 8 per­cent this year, among the fastest in the re­gion.

Ex­pec­ta­tions be­lied

Just a week af­ter trad­ing be­gan on the Yangon ex­change, a demo­crat­i­cally elected govern­ment headed by for­mer po­lit­i­cal pris­oner Aung San Suu Kyi took power. Since then, the United States has lifted nearly all of the eco­nomic sanc­tions it had im­posed on the for­mer mil­i­tary regime, free­ing up re­mit­tances from abroad which ex­perts say may help fuel the mar­ket.

“We shall see. It’s con­di­tional. If our econ­omy pros­pers, the stock mar­ket will also do well,” said Khin Maung Nyo, an economist and au­thor. For the time be­ing, he ad­vised cau­tion for “Mr.

Av­er­age.” With the three listed com­pa­nies mostly trad­ing below their ini­tial price lev­els, many in­vestors have fared poorly. — AP

— AP

YANGON: In this Oct 25, 2016, photo, vis­i­tors view the new Yangon Stock Ex­change board at the ex­change head­quar­ters in Yangon.

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