New ceremony marks opening of London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange's version of Wall Street's opening bell was launched today with the use of a giant countdown clock and key.
The inaugural event saw a timer on a giant globe mark the 8am opening, before UK Chancellor George Osborne triggered trade by "unlocking" the market with a plastic key.
The ceremony will become a regular event with companies and celebrities expected to turn the key on important occasions, such as a stock market flotation. Commodities giant Glencore is expected to be invited to mark its listing on the LSE later this month.
The giant globe, placed in the central atrium of the LSE headquarters at Paternoster Square, is set against more than 500 high definition screens, which outside of the market opening event, will show news, prices and weather.
The exchange is following in the footsteps of its competitors, such as Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange, which have maintained the opening bell ritual as a marketing tool.
The Chancellor said: "As the world's most international exchange, the London Stock Exchange brings businesses from all over the world to London, fuelling our reputation as the world's premier global financial centre."
He added: "I hope this new market open ceremony will help to showcase London's unique strengths."
The London Stock Exchange Group, which runs the trading post, hopes the ritual will boost its profile.
Market opening ceremonies had a more practical use in the days of pit trading, which ceased in London 25 years ago. Most exchanges have now shifted dealing on to computer screens and electronic trading has taken over.
The LSE closed its trading pits in 1986 and has for years marked the start of trading by activating balls on a mobile sculpture known as The Source.
But The Source was removed from the LSE's lobby as the exchange decided whether to replace it with a more traditional, opening bell-style ceremony.
In New York, Nasdaq has a room at its headquarters where it invites company executives and celebrities to ring an electronic bell, with images broadcast on a huge screen on Times Square.