KARACHI: Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has advised Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) to extend the duration of market halt from 45 minutes to 120 minutes for a period of 15 days from March 24. PSX had to halt trading five times in last two weeks after KSE-30 shares index plunged 5.0 percent. In view of the fact that banks and stock market are vital instruments of country’s financial system, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has announced that the all Capital Market entities would be operational on Tuesday, March 24. SECP has issued directive to open Stock market at 11am in morning. Further, the requirement under Regulation 8.3.2 is also relaxed whereby securities brokers may be allowed to activate and operate the DR terminals for trading purposes during normal operations of PSX for a period of 15 days from the date of this letter. SECP has taken necessary measures to ensure continuity of business operations of its Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs) including the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Central Depository Company of Pakistan (CDC) and National Clearing Company of Pakistan (NCCPL). Given that the Government of Sindh has announced a lockdown in Sindh from March 23, upon request of the SECP, Sindh Government has included SROs of the Capital Market amongst ‘Essential Services’. To ensure business continuity and preparedness of the TREC holders and the SROs, SECP conducted a mock trading session on Monday, March 23 in the Capital Market. During this mock exercise, all the TREC Holders were asked to logged in from their respective Disaster Recovery (DR) and remote locations and successfully went through the processes of trading, clearing and settlement. The PSX, NCCPL and CDC teams were providing support services to ensure all activities run efficiently and all TREC holders are equipped for market operations tomorrow onwards as business commences. The information technology departments of all SROs and SECP have made ‘Work from Home’ arrangements and connectivity with the trading, clearing, settlement and depository systems of the SROs. In view of the lock down situation and the remote access arrangements, SECP will announce certain relaxations, in terms of timing for the Capital Market stake holders in morning before opening of trading session. The SECP advises the TREC Holders that the number of staff at office be kept at the minimal and only critical staff be maintained at the official premises. Furthermore, the SECP advises that the investors and visitors are forbidden from visiting the Stock Exchange and the TREC holders in view of the current situation.