Short Selling Banned in Indonesia Stocks on Brink of Bear Market

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© Reuters. Short Selling Banned in Indonesia Stocks on Brink of Bear Market© Reuters. Short Selling Banned in Indonesia Stocks on Brink of Bear Market

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The Indonesia Stock Exchange banned short selling in stocks after the coronavirus outbreak pushed the nation’s equities to the cusp of a bear market.

The Jakarta Composite Index dropped as much as 1.8% on Monday, sending the benchmark within a whisker of a 20% decline from a record high in 2018, after the Southeast Asian nation confirmed its first two coronavirus cases. It then pared losses to 0.9% as of 3:51 p.m. in Jakarta.

The bourse will not publish the list of stocks eligible for short selling until further notice to curb speculation and ensure market stability, it said in a statement on Monday. It also has other tools in the pipeline to ensure that the market gets stabilized, the statement added.

“We will be very careful when implementing additional tools and will partner with other authorities before implementing those tools,” the exchange’s President Director Inarno Djajadi told reporters in Jakarta. “We ask investors not to panic and to be reactive to the market slump.”

The ban on short selling is among a series of steps Indonesia is taking to counter the coronavirus impact in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and its stock market. It’s “a good policy to reduce volatility, to avoid any inappropriate behavior of hedge funds,” said Amica Darmawan, a fund manager at PT First State Investments Indonesia.

In other measures on Monday, Bank Indonesia relaxed the amount of reserves banks need to hold and signaled more steps to stem a rout in the rupiah and the nation’s bonds. On Monday, the yield on benchmark 10-year notes spiked above 7% for the first time since early January, while the currency halted a losing streak of nine straight days.

The central bank’s steps to ease liquidity will help markets, but any moves on fiscal stimulus and a gradual depreciation of the rupiah will help more, Darmawan said.

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