Stock market, banks shut by storm

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The central bank, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and commercial banks in Metro Manila suspended their operations on Friday due to heavy rains and flooding brought by tropical storm Mario.

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“Following the announcement by Malacanang (Presidential Palace) of work suspension in government offices in Metro Manila, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said clearing operations for today, September 19, are hereby suspended,” the BSP said in a media
advisory.

The BSP said data on the Balance of Payments (BOP) for the second quarter and August, as well as on the country’s external debt and gross international reserves (GIR) for August—all due out today (Friday)—will be released on Monday.

The PSE, meanwhile, said in its advisory: “Please be advised that there will be no trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange and no clearing and settlement at the Securities Clearing and Corp. Philippines today, 19 September 2014, due to the suspension of clearing and settlement operations in the Philippine banking system.”

Roel A. Refran, PSE chief operating officer, said in the advisory posted on the PSE website that the PSE will resume business on Monday next week.

Banks, including the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank), Banco de Oro (BDO), Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCOM) and HSBC have also issued notices of temporary suspension of their operations.

“Normal work hours are suspended in heavily flooded areas affected by the typhoon. Unaffected branches shall remain open,” BDO said in a text message.

HSBC’s Jessica Blas said in a text message: “Yes, we are cancelling work at our offices and branches.”

PBCOM said in an advisory sent to media offices: “Due to the inclement weather and flooding caused by Typhoon Mario, all PBCOM branches and other banking offices in Metro Manila will be closed today.”

Although its bank branches are closed, PBCOM said its ATMs in Metro Manila remain open while banks and ATMs outside Metro Manila “are open for business.”

“Yes, as of 12:00 noon,” Francisco Suarez, GT Capital Holdings Inc. chief financial officer, said via a text message when asked about Metrobank’s operations, but did not elaborate. GT Capital is the parent firm of Metrobank.

Maybank Philippines Inc. initially opened its branches on Friday morning but later announced it has shortened the operating hours at its Metro Manila branches to 3 p.m. from 4 p.m.

Other business establishments, such as malls SM and Robinsons, decided to maintain normal operations but were on the “lookout to shelter communities affected by the typhoon.”

Large sections of Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed under the red rainfall warning, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in a 9 am Friday update. PAGASA said that heavy to torrential rains were affecting Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan.

The Presidential Palace earlier in the day announced it has suspended government work and classes at all school levels in Metro Manila and nearby areas.

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