Hong Kong bourse boss not fan of China's market intervention

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 4:02 AM
Hong Kong bourse boss not fan of China's market intervention

HONG KONG (AP) — The head of Hong Kong's stock exchange said Thursday that he wasn't a fan of recent moves by Beijing to prop up sagging share prices but it won't stop the exchange from expanding ties with mainland Chinese counterparts.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing CEO Charles Li said that Beijing would probably intervene again in the markets but hoped officials would do a better job.

The emergency measures were aimed at stemming a painful decline on China's stock markets that also contributed to a global slump in shares. The measures included curbs on stock sales by major shareholders and a botched "circuit breaker" mechanism on the Shanghai market intended to prevent big share price swings but which traders said added to turmoil. They failed to stop the rout, with the Shanghai Composite down about 19 percent since the start of the year.

"What do you think of the Chinese obnoxious intervention policy? That's what you're asking," Li said in a reply to a reporter's questions. "I don't like it. I don't think you like it. I don't think anybody likes it. I don't think they even like it but that's what they did. That's what they think they have to do, they probably will do it again."

The comments highlight how the Chinese government's clumsy meddling in markets has eroded confidence in its ability to steer the country through economic and financial reforms.

Li was speaking at a media event to outline the bourse's strategy over the next three years, which is focused on expanding direct trading links with mainland Chinese equity, commodity and bond markets.

In late 2014, the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect trading link was launched giving international investors wider access to China's main stock market, which had been largely closed off to outsiders. It also gives wealthy Chinese investors access to a market outside the mainland for the first time. A similar link between Hong Kong and the smaller Shenzhen stock market is planned but Chinese regulatory approval has been delayed amid the market turmoil.

He said the volatility would not prevent Hong Kong Exchanges from working to become a bigger platform for Chinese and international investors to access each other's markets.

"We're not going to say: there's bad stuff over there so I decided to not build a bridge," Li said. "So we build the bridge. If something's happening there that you don't like, you don't have to cross it."

Hong Kong has been a specially administered region of China since 1997 but it has a separate financial system and its own currency.

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