GRAPHIC-Rise in trading volumes boosts earnings outlook for Asian stock exchanges

Feb 18 (Reuters) - Shares of Asian stock exchanges have surged this year as trading volumes on regional bourses soared and stock prices hit record highs.

According to data from World Federation of Exchanges, 19 major stock exchanges in Asia had a cumulative turnover of $5.5 trillion in January, the highest in six months. In January 2020, the turnover was just $2.7 trillion.

Higher retail participation, particularly from people stuck at home due to pandemic lockdowns, and soaring equities on the back of optimism over COVID-19 vaccine rollouts were reasons behind the higher trading activity in the region, analysts said.

Analysts have lifted their forward 12-month earnings estimates of Asian stock exchanges by 5.7% in the past 30 days, compared with a 2.12% increase for the overall region, Refinitiv data showed.

They have raised earnings estimates for exchange operators Bursa Malaysia Bhd and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd < 0388.HK> by 10.4% and 6.5% respectively.

The turnover of shares on the two exchanges more than doubled last month.

At the same time, some brokerages such as KIWOOM Securities Co Ltd, Futu Holdings Ltd and NH Investment & Securities Co Ltd have also seen earnings’ upgrades in excess of 8% in the past month.

Shares of Asian exchanges have gained 20.3% this year, with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd leading the gainers at more than 30%.

Reporting by Gaurav Dogra in Bengaluru; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Bernadette Baum