Business / Markets

Stock Connect delay worries investors

By Xie Yu and Cai Xiao (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-18 10:24

Excitement has given way to impatience as investors in Shanghai are waiting for the green light that would signal the start of the much-hyped Stock Connect program that would inject new life into the moribund capital market.

Pointing to the decline in the benchmark index on Friday, capital market sources said the fall is an indication of the growing frustration among investors in Shanghai. Most of the investors had anticipated healthy returns from the Stock Connect program and were buying up shares. The inordinate delay has made them apprehensive, said the sources.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.64 percent to 2,341.43 at close on Friday. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index added 0.48 percent in Hong Kong.

"We have not received any notice of when the program will start," Yim Fung, chairman and CEO of Guotai Junan International, a Hong Kong-based securities firm, said.

Various reasons, however, have been doing the rounds for the delay. Some sources cited the protests in Hong Kong, while others suggested that the authorities would need more time to sort out the issues related to cross-border capital flows.

Hong Hao, a strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co, said: "It is likely (the currency flow issues) is one of the reasons (for the delay). But there are also several technical issues and uncertainties about tax policies that are delaying the green light. Overall, market circles are not happy with the inordinate delay.".

It is generally believed by investors and experts that the Stock Connect program, allowing overseas investors to buy Shanghai-listed A shares and mainland investors to buy Hong Kong-listed H shares, will commence before the end of October to meet the original schedule set by Premier Li Keqiang.

Li said on April 10 that the program will be introduced within six months, and later Charles Li, CEO of the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, said the program would most likely start on a Monday in October.

The delay, if there is one, won't do much harm to the brokerages, said Yim. In fact, they can take the time to get more clients to open accounts for the Stock Connect trading, he said. Guotai Junan has enlisted more than 10 brokerages, including several from Japan and South Korea, for cooperation in expanding the client base in Stock Connect transactions.

Eliot Li, director of corporate development, sales and marketing at First Shanghai Financial Holding in Hong Kong, said though market psychology may be affected by the delay, it is not the end of the world.

"We have built up a team of professionals and needed financial resources to handle the expected business. As soon as the starting gun is fired we are ready to go," Li said, adding that from what he has heard, it is "highly likely" that the program would kick off on Oct 27.

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