Overheating of China's stock market structural

Updated: 2007-06-01 08:47

NEW YORK - The overheating of the Chinese stock market is a structural problem that will be resolved by developing more financial products and cracking down on illegal activities, a Chinese securities regulatory official said Thursday.

Hu Bing, deputy director-general of the market supervision department at the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at a conference in New York that authorities are seeking to roll out more products to broaden investors' options, such as real estate investment trusts, or REITs, as well as listed infrastructure funds.

Other eventual offerings will include derivatives products such as stock-index futures and warrants. These products will be launched "when conditions are ready," Hu said at a China Investment Forum sponsored by Merrill Lynch and Institutional Investor. He said he couldn't provide a clearer timeline for when those products would be ready.

Hu acknowledged a "liquidity surplus problem" that is contributing to the overheating of the Chinese stock market and noted that hot-money inflows coming in through illegal channels are exacerbating the problem. Tackling the liquidity issue is a long-term project that "cannot be resolved just by (raising) the interest rate," Hu said. "So the structural problem has to be resolved using structural measures."

Earlier this week, the Chinese government tripled its stamp tax on stock trades in an effort to rein in the equity market. The Shanghai Composite Index more than doubled in 2006 and is still up around 50 percent so far in 2007.

Hu said China's capital markets are still young and face a "golden opportunity" to develop their depth and breadth. The majority of individual investors rely on rumors or inside information to make their decisions, leading to speculative gains in stocks, he said.

Hu said authorities are stepping up efforts to crack down on insider trading, "but because this is a transitioning society in an emerging market, it will take a long time."

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