China grants more access to financial markets

SHANGHAI (AFP) - China's market regulator said it will allow more types of financial institutions to invest yuan funds held offshore in domestic capital markets, in a long-awaited move to boost the stock market.

China will let Chinese banks' and insurers' Hong Kong units as well as financial institutions registered and having "major" operations in Hong Kong to place yuan funds in mainland instruments, according to a statement.

Previously, China only allowed the Hong Kong arms of Chinese brokerages and fund managers to take part in the scheme, which was launched in 2011 and had granted 27 institutions an investment quota of 70 billion yuan (S$14 billion).

The market regulator also scrapped a rule limiting these investors to having a maximum of 20 per cent of their yuan funds in equities, with the rest having to go into bonds, said the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Investors will also be permitted to invest in a wider range of financial instruments, including stock index futures, it said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Chinese regulators have been studying measures to boost the sluggish stock market, which on Monday slumped 3.65 per cent, the biggest single-day decline in 19 months. In early December, it hit a four-year low of 1,949.46 points.

Chinese shares ignored the positive news on Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index down 0.17 per cent, or 3.99 points, to 2,343.19 in afternoon trading.

Securities regulator chief Guo Shuqing said in January that China could increase 10-fold the quota for foreign investors to put funds into the country's stock markets through another scheme.

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