October 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Not Everyone Shared In Hysteria Markets In Fiji And Mongolia Just Enjoyed Business As Usual

Associated Press

Not every stock market nursed its wounds this week.

In fact, in out-of-the-way places such as Fiji, traders barely noticed. And in Mongolia, they sat back and enjoyed an advance.

Fiji, a nation of islands in the Pacific Ocean north of New Zealand, has the world’s smallest stock exchange. Only 12 years old, it is the antithesis of Wall Street and its world-famous hordes of shouting, arm-waving traders.

Under fluorescent lights, a lone word processor sits in a corner of the stock exchange in Suva. Share prices are scrawled in black marker on a board watched by, at most, 29 reserved traders, soberly clad in slacks, ties and long-sleeved shirts.

The Suva Stock Exchange only opens once a week, at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, and that was the day the market meltdown began this week in Hong Kong and soon spread across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The Suva exchange enjoyed a typically tepid round on Monday, involving only five or six traders and deals made up of two or three stocks and government bonds worth a total of $1.675 million.

“It was quite a normal situation,” said market trader Tony Cooper.

What about the worldwide tumble? What effect did it have in Fiji? “There was no mention of it,” he said.

No one even knows whether the Suva market went up or down that day because the trading is so minuscule there that there is no index tracking the market’s performance.

About 2,200 miles to the northwest, in the remote country of Mongolia, traders had an even better time Tuesday, day No. 2 of the turmoil on world stock exchanges.

In a nation of nomads that only dropped hard-line communism seven years ago, and where livestock still outnumber humans 12 to one, prices on the exchange rose 6.4 percent.

Like Fiji, Mongolia’s remoteness and lack of foreign investors in today’s global market cushioned it against attacks that sent markets in Asia tumbling.

The Mongolian Stock Exchange Top 75 index climbed 19.97 points to 332.39 on Tuesday. In Ulan Bator, the capital, traders were aware of the crippling blows in major markets, but didn’t seem worried.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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