Business / Markets

MSCI defers decision on inclusion of A shares in global benchmark

By Xie Yu (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-11 08:59

Global index compiler MSCI Inc said on Wednesday that it had delayed including the Chinese A shares in its benchmark index as there were still some issues over market access, but said that it was working with the nation's capital market regulator to address the issue.

MSCI and the China Securities Regulatory Commission will form a working group to tackle the remaining accessibility issues and the index provider will include the A shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index as soon as the issues are resolved, which may happen "outside the regular schedule" of its annual market classification review, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The yuan-denominated A-share market, the second-largest equity market by capitalization (following the United States market) and the most actively traded cash equity market globally, had missed its first opportunity in 2014 to join the MSCI Emerging Market Index, after it was picked for an annual review. The index is tracked by roughly $1.7 trillion of funds globally, according to Bloomberg data.

The decisions following the two reviews more or less followed similar patterns. Concerns still exist over market tradability, referring to specific issues including quota allocation process, capital mobility restrictions and beneficial ownership of investments, according to the press release.

However, analysts said the wording of the MSCI statement indicated global investors have recognized the substantial progress regarding China's equity market opening-up. Given that some of them even have made attempts to embrace the market, the inclusion may happen as early as the fourth quarter, market sources said.

"Our expectation is that the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme could be unveiled in the near future and could be up and running in the fourth quarter. If our expectations prevail, a key pre-requisite for A-share inclusion to global indexes will be fulfilled, and could open a special review by the MSCI," Goldman Sachs Group Inc strategist Kinger Lau and his team wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Steve Yang, an A-share strategist with Swiss financial services firm UBS Securities LLC, said: "Although A shares have yet to meet MSCI's and FTSE's emerging markets classification standards, an increasing number of overseas funds have considered including A shares in their portfolios."

MSCI's rival FTSE announced the creation of two transitional emerging market indexes that included A shares in late May, which aims to facilitate the potential inclusion of A shares to FTSE's standard global indexes.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.15 percent to 5,106.04 points on Wednesday after the news.

"Blue chips in sectors including finance, information technology, and energy are the direct beneficiaries, based on the experiences of other markets like South Korea. But the impact on liquidity will be limited in the short term, whether or not the A shares are included in the MSCI benchmark," said Zhu Zhenxin, an analyst with Minsheng Securities Co Ltd.

The initial inclusion will see A shares taking up less than 1 percent of the Emerging Market Index, and may introduce about $2 billion funds, below 1 percent of the daily turnover on China's equity market nowadays.

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