Feb 18 - Shares of Asian stock exchanges havesurged this year as trading volumes on regional bourses soaredand stock prices hit record highs. According to data from World Federation of Exchanges, 19major stock exchanges in Asia had a cumulative turnover of $5.5trillion in January, the highest in six months. In January 2020,the turnover was just $2.7 trillion. Higher retail participation, particularly from people stuckat home due to pandemic lockdowns, and soaring equities on theback of optimism over COVID-19 vaccine rollouts were reasonsbehind the higher trading activity in the region, analysts said. Analysts have lifted their forward 12-month earningsestimates of Asian stock exchanges by 5.7% in the past 30 days,compared with a 2.12% increase for the overall region, Refinitivdata showed. They have raised earnings estimates for exchange operatorsBursa Malaysia Bhd and Hong Kong Exchanges andClearing Ltd < 0388.HK> by 10.4% and 6.5% respectively. The turnover of shares on the two exchanges more thandoubled last month. At the same time, some brokerages such as KIWOOM SecuritiesCo Ltd, Futu Holdings Ltd and NHInvestment & Securities Co Ltd have also seenearnings' upgrades in excess of 8% in the past month. Shares of Asian exchanges have gained 20.3% this year, withHong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd leading thegainers at more than 30%. REUTERS
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