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    Post Iraq Stock Exchange moves to full week of trading

    Iraq's stock exchange on Sunday moved to electronic trading every day of the business week for the first time, in a step towards embracing the modern world of international finance.

    The move came after months of extended testing of its new electronic systems, initially used for just one day in a shortened three-day trading week.

    "Yes, today is the first day that we started electronic trading for a five-day week," an Iraq Stock Exchange spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified, told AFP.

    "We were experimenting with the system, and new companies were being listed, so we decided to do this after we found the system reliable."

    The ISX, which lies in the commercial Karrada district in the centre of the capital, was set up in 2004, replacing the Stock Exchange of Baghdad created by ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 1993.

    The exchange's main room is separated from stock brokers by glass counters, with investors who wish to buy or sell stock calling brokers on the other side, who e.xecute trades on computers.

    Throughout trading hours, an armed guard patrols the main room as investors look at LCD displays and two pull-down projector screens displaying the prices of various listed companies -- in English -- on what appears to be an automated Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

    It took a year and a half to launch electronic trading, from buying and installing equipment to training brokers to operate the 50 trading screens on which deals are now completed.

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