NEW YORK — Philippine President Corazon Aquino today launched U.S. trading in the First Philippine Fund Inc., becoming the first head of state to inaugurate a stock issue in the history of the New York Stock Exchange.
Aquino stood beside NYSE Chairman John Phelan at an oak podium on a marble rostrum overlooking the exchange floor as the bell rang to start the trading day. She was greeted with applause by traders and brokers.
The enthusiasm was more than politeness to a head of state, however, as brokers enthusiastically snapped up the Philippine stock on its first day of trading.
Offered at $12 a share, the fund was the most active issue on the Big Board, rising to $13.375 on volume of more than 925,000 shares.
Aquino, midway through an eight-day tour of North America, visited the post on the floor where a specialist unit took orders to buy the new stock, a closed-end single-country fund that will invest in Philippine business.
Scrambling to get orders in, traders passed slips of paper over her head and around Aquino as she shook hands with brokers and traders and then took a 10-minute tour of the floor.
The visit to the exchange by the Philippine leader, who is to meet President Bush in Washington on Thursday, underscored the focus of her tour to bring more trade and investment to the Philippines and to secure debt relief.
The Philippine issue benefited from good timing, going to market at the start of a rally on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 28 points to 2,625 in early trading.
Single-country funds sell a fixed number of shares to investors and use the money to buy securities in that country.