[Marxism] Another milestone in the restoration of Chinese capitalism

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 17 11:15:32 MST 2014

China took another major step today to restoring full-fledged capitalism, opening its Shanghai stock exchange to all foreign investors and allowing its own citizens to buy overseas assets on the Hong Kong bourse. 

Until now, the Chinese market was only open to a limited number of “qualified” foreign institutional investors - mainly the big US and European investment banks - who were assigned a quota limiting their collective share purchases.  The quota system remains in place, as China gradually moves away from capital controls, but the scope and value of stocks available to foreigners have greatly increased, and restrictions on who can buy them - notably hedge funds eager to crack the China market - have been lifted. 

Today’s first day of trading saw foreign investors bidding up shares on the Shanghai market, but interest in foreign shares listed on the Hong Kong exchange by wealthy Chinese buyers was more muted. The greater flow of funds into Shanghai likely reflects the mainland’s greater growth potential as well as the anticipated steady appreciation of the yuan against foreign currencies. 

The Financial Times report below calls the program “one of the most significant developments in the opening of China’s financial markets in years.”

*	*	*

Hong Kong-Shanghai exchange deal sees money head north
By Josh Noble in Hong Kong and Gabriel Wildau in Shanghai
Financial Times
November 17 2014

An equity trading scheme linking the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges had a lopsided start on Monday, with mainland investors showing little appetite for buying shares listed offshore.

The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect allows investors in both financial centres to buy equities in each other’s market, giving global hedge funds and retail investors direct access to China for the first time while offering domestic investors a new route to international assets.

The pilot project is subject to both daily and aggregate limits on how much capital can cross in each direction. Each day global investors can put as much as Rmb13bn ($2.1bn) into Shanghai stocks, while wealthy mainland individuals can send up to Rmb10.5bn south into Hong Kong.

International investors exhausted their daily quota by 2pm on Monday, having bought more than $1bn of stock during the pre-trade auction.

Yet the southbound leg through which Chinese retail investors can trade in Hong Kong experienced tepid demand. At the close, mainland buyers had bought less than Rmb180m worth of Hong Kong shares, leaving more than 80 per cent of their daily quota untouched.

“I think it’s fair to say that it’s not been a roaring success. It’s something that will be looked at critically,” said one Hong Kong-based equity market banker. “It will be monitored closely in the next couple of days, but it’s too early to hit the panic button.”

Based on the first day, the aggregate quota of Rmb300bn for investing into China will be filled in 23 trading days. However, the southbound leg will require roughly 140 sessions to exhaust its limit of Rmb250bn.

“For domestic investors who want buy Hong Kong shares, they already had ways to get around the restrictions and buy them. So there wasn’t much pent-up demand to begin with,” said a trader at a midsized brokerage in Shanghai.

Some large foreign asset managers have taken a cautious approach to the opening of the Stock Connect, choosing to wait and watch how the early days go. The delay in clarification on a key capital gains tax issue also served to slow take-up among institutional investors.

However, many hedge funds and retail investors have been clamouring to buy into the Shanghai market to exploit price gaps between the two exchanges, where dozens of companies maintain dual listings.

The Stock Connect is one of the most significant developments in the opening of China’s financial markets in years, and could ultimately lead to mainland shares being added to global benchmark indices, such as those compiled by MSCI and FTSE.

The start of the scheme caused choppy trading in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng index initially jumped, but finished the day down 1.2 per cent. The Shanghai market edged lower by 0.2 per cent.

Some of the Shanghai-listed stocks by analysts tipped to benefit did see a rise, with spirits makerKweichow Moutai adding 1.8 per cent, automaker SAIC up 3.2 per cent, and Daqin Railway gaining 6.2 per cent.

In Hong Kong, Mengniu Dairy was the biggest mover, with a 1.8 per cent rise.

However, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing shares sank 4.5 per cent. The bourse operator had been the top gainer in Hong Kong this year, rising more than 40 per cent on the back of growing optimism about the Stock Connect.

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