The stock market will remain open for normal trading on February 28 (a Saturday), the day Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the first full Budget of the Narendra Modi government. Market regulator SEBI has accepted the “strong recommendations” of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to keep the bourses open.
Sources in SEBI said the decision has been taken keeping domestic traders’ interests in mind. “If the Indian market remains closed on Saturday, traders on the Singapore Stock Exchange will be in a better position to take advantage of the budgetary provisions. The Singapore exchange opens two hours before the Indian market on Monday, the first working day after the Budget presentation, and this time gap will give it an advantage,” a source said.
The Singapore exchange has a derivative product, SGX Nifty. It contains all the 50 NSE Nifty stocks and allows foreign investors to take positions in the Indian market.
Since, trading in the SGX Nifty starts at 6.30 am Indian Standard Time, foreign investors would have been in a position to place their bets on Indian equities, based on the Budget provisions, some two hours ahead of the Indian market opening.
Sources also said that there have been two occasions, in 1992-93 and 1999-2000, when the Budget was presented on a Saturday. On both these occasions the stock market had special trading sessions.
Similarly, before 2000, when the Budget used to be presented at 5 pm, stock exchanges would have special trading sessions, just like the muhurat trading on Diwali.
All this prompted the regulator to accept the recommendations made by the exchanges to keep the market open on Budget day.