China’s capital markets are maturing. Futures and margin trading had already been launched, but this week we saw equity options for the first time in China. The new derivatives trading commenced with big fanfare, with main regulators as well as top government officials present at the opening ceremony, emphasizing the importance of the event.
2014 was a good year to be a bank in China, but apparently an even better one to be a brokerage. The latest data from the Securities Association of China shows that 2014 total income for the industry was 260.3 billion RMB (Chinese Yuan), up 63% from 2013.
The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has plans to launch a FTSE China A50 Index Futures option product if / when it is approved by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). While the new product name can be confusing for those who don’t follow Asian stock and derivatives markets closely, it simply means that investors in the region will have a hedging tool for the rollercoaster stock markets of China. Up more than 40% since November last year, the stock market dipped several times in January. Since the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect launched, the attention on Chinese A-shares has been unprecedented and additional investor interest should drive demand for exposure and hedging tools.
A bit outside of our normal commentary, but an article sheds light on how low-latency technology is important in China, but for buying train tickets.
Alibaba is yet again launching another investment product, and this time it will give its Alipay customers the option to invest in gold.
Conventional wisdom and the written history of capital markets would have it that the value of a particular stock is based on the potential of future returns in the form of dividends and the underlying book value of the company. Not ones to stick with tradition, China’s mainland investors have often defied this basic tenant of reason and developed their own ideas about what the price of any particular stock should be.
After years of bearish sentiments among Chinese investors, the Shanghai Composite Index seems to be picking up again and rises to highest level since August 2011.
Alibaba's not so subtle move into China's financial services industry took another step forward today with an additional investment into financial data and software provider Hundsun.
According to new data released by China Securities Depository and Clearing (CSDC), Chinese investors have opened 243,073 new A-share accounts in the period between November 10th and November 14th.
The PBOC has issued implementation rules for RMB cash pooling in China, which will facilitate cross-border RMB sweeping for multinationals, previously restricted to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
Baidu Baifa 100 Index Fund, the first big data-based quantitative strategy fund in China, announced that it was closed for new investors only 24 hours of online sale at 15:00 on October 28th.
How’s that trading on the HK-Shanghai coming for you today? We had hinted at it before in the previous couple of weeks, but it looks like the HK-Shanghai connect is delayed indefinitely with some sources saying anything from a two week to two month delay.
Starting from October 8th China Securities Depository and Clearing will assign a single unified account number to all A-share and closed-end mutual fund account holders. Previously, accounts were separated to the respective Shanghai and Shenzhen branches of the clearing company.
The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect Program is launching in mid October and significant changes to the Chinese capital markets landscape are to be expected. Also labeled as the (new?) “Through Train”, this program will give foreign retail investors access to 568 Shanghai-listed stocks, with a market capitalization of roughly USD 2 trillion, and many are already waiting in anticipation for the door to be opened. A brief analysis of the Shanghai Hong-Kong Stock Connect.
With Alibaba in the US for a one-week road show before what might be the biggest tech IPO that we've ever seen, Alibaba's competitors are battening down the hatches for an extended battle for the face of e-commerce in China.
The Australia Securities Exchange reported a year on year increase on revenue and profits yesterday on the back of strong IPO performance. Net income hit A$383.2 million from A$348.2 a year before.
The Shanghai–Hong Kong Stock Connect is coming soon as dates for official testing are announced already. According to HKEx, market rehearsals will be held since late August to September, where exchange participants will conduct trading, clearing and settlement activities to verify readiness of the all involved systems.
The recent news story about Bank of China allegedly assisting with illegal money transfer ended well for the bank and turned out to be a case of journalists not doing enough research...
Despite the regulators’ effort in boosting investor’s confidence in post-hiatus IPOs, growth in Chinese stock market growth in trading volume is still sluggish.
On June 11 2014, MSCI Inc. indicated that China’s A-shares will not be included in MSCI’s global index, meanwhile, South Korea and Taiwan will not be considered to upgrade to developed market status.
In the latest SWIFT RMB tracker report, usage of RMB in cross-border payments involving HK and China increased 36% to 12%, but still has ways to go.
State Council is China’s main governing body and its opinions provide guidance for the financial industry and allow to peek into what the government has in mind for the markets in the coming years.
Since the IPO hiatus last year many qualified mainland companies have been waiting for new capital. With banks traditionally more supportive of SOEs and PE not being able to invest since much of their capital have been locked already, many well-managed, fast-growing companies were starving of capital.
The RMB continued its relentless march towards being a trade currency with over US$15 billion in RMB bond issuance in the city-state of Singapore - more than doubling the issuance of 10 years ago.
With the introduction of regulations on preference shares by the CBRC and PBOC in this March and April, banks seem to be willing to explore the new financing option.
According to the latest numbers from Ministry of Commerce of PRC, in the first 4 months of 2014, the investment into Hong Kong from Mainland and exports from Chinese mainland to Hong Kong decreased largely.
The latest figure announced by the CSRC indicates that in early 2014, the number of Chinese securities investment funds registered increased, with the total turnover declined dramatically.
In year 2014 we expect to see numerous new policy and regulation updates on the financial reform of Shanghai FTZ. Where are we today?
Shanghai local government and Chinese central government will endeavor to expand the market functions, deepen the opening of local financial markets to foreign investors, increase the number of financial institutions in the FTZ, encourage the financial business innovation and make Shanghai more of an international financial center.
Some of China's financial reforms are under consideration or have already been executed in 2014, such as setting up crude oil futures, international gold trading, financial asset trading, syndicated loan trading platforms and building nationwide trust registry service institutions. Besides, rules regarding foreign and FTZ-registered firms’ parent companies RMB bonds issuance are on the way. Moreover, Shanghai FTZ regulators will also consider introduction of free trade account management by allowing financial institutions to set up FTA (Free Trade Account) accounting units segregated for residents and non-residents. Furthermore, Shanghai FTZ regulators encourage direct investment abroad from local firms and private equity funds. The main contents of Shanghai FTZ’s reform could be described as a ‘1+4’ policy, where ‘1’ stands for risk control segregate account system; ‘4’ stands for interest rate liberalization, foreign exchange liberalization, RMB cross-border utilization and RMB capital account opening.
PBOC announced that, starting on March 17, 2014, the interbank RMB/USD spot price’s fluctuation spread increased from 1% to 2%. For commercial banks, the fluctuation range of RMB/USD spot price offering to the clients could be expanded from 2% to 3% from the mid-price calculated by Chinese interbank FX market. This is the third time for PBOC to expand the fluctuation range. Analysts say the expansion in RMB/USD spot fluctuation range is a clear signal that RMB will be internationalized in the near future and Shanghai FTZ is thought to be a test-bed for that. The most prominent aspect of Shanghai FTZ FX reform is the FTA (Free Trade Account). FTA is essentially a free trade bank account for Shanghai FTZ registered firms, very similar to an offshore bank account, which enables free capital flow inside the FTZ. FTA system allows both foreigners and local residents to get their money in and out through FTZ. Overall, there are mainly 3 types of FTA accounts. Local firms in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; individuals in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; foreign firms in the FTZ could open FTN accounts. As regulators are treading conservatively with hot money inflows and money laundering risks in mind, there is still no detailed timeline. However, we believe the FTA mechanism will be released in 2014 or 2015 as a momentous milestone in China's financial reform history.
In March, 2014, a PBOC official claimed that the sequence of Shanghai FTZ interest rate reform will be ‘liberalize interest rates for foreign currencies prior to RMB interest rates; free the loan rates prior the deposit rates’.
There were actions towards interest rate reform in Shanghai FTZ from the regulators. PBOC announced that from March 1st, 2014, the deposit rate of foreign currencies below the amount of USD3 million would be liberalized, which actually removed the ceiling for foreign currencies’ deposit rate. This is thought to be an important step on the road to fully liberalized interest rate reform. The next step could be liberalization of the deposit rates of the local currency, which may not only be applicable in Shanghai FTZ, but also the rest of China.
On Feb 21, 2014, PBOC released the detailed regulation on expanding the usage of RMB overseas, which simplified the process of RMB overseas usage under current and direct investment account. However, overseas RMB financial scale and usage range will still be restricted, as well as cross-border e-commerce transactions and RMB trading services.
Six banks constitute the first batch of firms applied for the cross-border RMB settlement licenses. ICBC and Bank of China helped their clients within the zone to make an overseas RMB loan; Bank of Shanghai, HSBC and Citi Bank launched cross-border RMB current account centralized collection and payment services; Bank of Communications signed the first overseas RMB borrowing service for the non-bank financial institutions.
In the future, the capital account might be opened for local and foreign investors. As Chinese reformers are relatively prudent and conservative, the liberalization process of capital accounts have been advancing relatively slowly so far. One important step in the process will be a gradual opening of commercial futures market to foreign institutional investors.
In the 1st half of 2014, a new version of ‘negative list’ will be released to update the 2013 version. Although it is not clear what items this version may include, there are two aspects which are certain. One aspect is that the contents included in the negative item list will be shortened, which implies that the restrictions on types of companies to register in the zone will be reduced. The other aspect is that Shanghai FTZ might cooperate with Hong Kong to introduce advanced practices from the city.
We also have an in-depth report on Shanghai FTZ available here.
Cracks are starting to show in the once impervious armor of China's online finance platforms as yields have dropped 20% from their highs. Ranging from about 4.7-5.6%, the current highs are much lower than the 6-8% that we saw at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014.
Realistically though, this isn't surprising. As we have discussed before, these platforms were running on borrowed time. Whilst the business model made sense, the inter-bank lending rates and the negotiated deposits that the main China online finance platforms were able to negotiate were a bit of a perfect storm for the platforms.
Now as the banks have put limits in place on the amount of money that can be moved on and off the platform at any one time, we're starting to see the market's reaction to what has caught most banks and the regulators completely off-guard. This is unlikely to be the last push-back from the banks on these new financial products.
Yet the platforms still have over 1.45 trillion yuan (US$230+ billion) on their platforms and this is unlikely to rapidly decrease anytime soon. 4-5% is still much better than the average retail consumer could get on a bank demand deposit in most of China's main banks and the convenience can't be beat - very easy to get money on and off the platforms, although within the limits set out by the PBOC.
This is far from the end of the story thought. We expect the growth of the platforms to certainly slow and although its still a bit unclear as to what the regulation will be, further regulation and requirements from the PBOC is inevitable as we go forward in 2014. This is all the more critical as Alibaba moves forward on the IPO plans. Can the company count on that part of the business to still drive revenue?
The latest figures from online saving funds financial statements have shown that the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) online money funds continued expanding. The 2014Q1 data reveals that Tianghong Zenglibao, relying on the huge client base of Yuebao, lead the market and is the first online saving funds that exceeds RMB100 Billion.
On April 10, 2014, the Chinese government approved the proposal for Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Market Connect program, which will allow mainland investors to directly trade stocks in Hong Kong market and Hong Kong investors to trade equities in A-share markets.