Country Report Panama March 1998 Main report

Money & finance: Stock exchange's clearing agency starts up --

For four years now a regional stock exchange has been evolving. In 1996 the Central Panamericano de Valores was set up, as a centralised depository for six countries -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Central clearing agencies are now being established in each country. Panama's agency, Latinclear, began operating on January 6th this year. Replacing a manual with an electronic system, Latinclear attempts to reduce settlement risks and enhance the efficiency and speed of the settlement process.

-- after another year of strong growth

Trading volumes on the Panama Stock Exchange registered an increase of 59% last year, slightly down on the 1996 rate but still very robust. The Bolsa has been expanding strongly nearly every year since its creation (in 1990), buoyed up by privatisation issues (the exception to the trend was in 1995, when there were no such issues). Corporate bonds continued to account for almost half of total trading volumes (45%), while government paper represented 22% and stocks 8%. Primary market issuance was up 56% and secondary market trading advanced 80%.

Volume traded on the stock exchange % change B m on year earlier 1992 102.8 225.9 1993 201.4 95.9 1994 290.2 44.1 1995 233.4 -19.6 1996 446.5 91.3 1997 711.0 59.2 Source: Bolsa de Valores de Panama.

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