Shanghai-HK stock link a boost for retail investors

Shanghai-HK stock link a boost for retail investors

Madam Ni Rongrong, 59, is a dissatisfied investor in Shanghai stocks.

While she has sunk a few million yuan in the Shanghai stock exchange, she is also irritated by its domination by uncompetitive state-owned enterprises - "where politics influences decision-making" - and the uncertainty surrounding many companies which lack thorough financial reporting.

Over the last three years, for example, she watched the share price of Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation, a military-jet maker, sink from 25 yuan to 16 yuan apiece, wiping almost a million yuan (S$201,000) off her portfolio.

She believes the decline is because state-owned companies with military links are not allowed to rise quickly in value by the authorities. "Shanghai is not a mature stock exchange," says the shipping executive. "But I have no other choice."

Come October, this will all change. With the establishment of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect (SHSC), the doors to the global financial system will creak open to Chinese investors like her.

Announced last week by Premier Li Keqiang, the scheme - first proposed in 2007 - will allow two-way trade between the two bourses up to 23.5 billion yuan a day. That is equal to about 20 per cent of the combined average daily trading turnover of both markets.

Individual Chinese investors who want to dip their toes into the Hong Kong market must have a minimum of 500,000 yuan in their trading accounts, said a joint statement from the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

Previously, only big institutional investors could buy foreign shares through a Qualified Institutional Investor scheme that had onerous requirements.

This restriction, and the relatively undeveloped state of China's two bourses - Shanghai and Shenzhen - has meant that only 12 per cent of Chinese household wealth is currently in securities, said Hong Kong-based DBS analyst Nathan Chow.

The other Chinese exchange in Guangdong province's Shenzhen hosts smaller, younger and mainly privately owned companies, as opposed to Shanghai's state-owned giants.

The majority of Chinese households' savings is in deposits with negative real-term yields. In contrast, United States households have 44 per cent of their capital in securities, noted Mr Chow.

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