WHEN news of the Shenzhen stock riots dominated the country's newspapers last August, residents in Nanning could not understand what all the fuss was about. Times have changed. Now the city's government, financial institutions and citizens are keen to learn more about stocks. Last month, the Nanning municipal government invited Liu Jipeng, a securities expert from Beijing, to present a half-day seminar on securities development in China. All the top municipal leaders, including the mayor, vice-mayors, chiefs of most government departments and senior executives of corporations, attended. However, the securities industry is still at an early stage of development. The national daily trading volume in A shares is about five million yuan (about HK$6.74 million), and each transaction is worth between a few thousand and 10,000 yuan. ''The stockmarket fever has yet to reach our city,'' said Zhang Zhihao, deputy director of the Commission for Restructuring Economic Systems in Nanning. ''This year we will focus on turning state-owned enterprises into shareholding companies.'' The first securities house, Guangxi Securities Company, opened last October. It only has one seat at the Shenzhen stock market. A second brokerage, Guangxi Trust and Investment, opened in January. At present, it only trades in Shenzhen shares, but is applying to buy a seat at the Shanghai stock market. The permit is expected to be granted later this year. Meanwhile, the securities branch of Guangxi's People's Construction Bank of China opened in June. It concentrates on the Shanghai stock market. ''Most Nanning residents knew little about the securities market until last August when the Shenzhen riots were reported. Now most residents are eager to learn more about securities,'' said an official of Guangxi Trust and Investment who asked not to be identified. As the stock market is experiencing a lull, trading volume is low. It is estimated the three brokerages currently account for a combined daily turnover of about five million yuan. ''Although we have new accounts set up everyday, stock investors in Nanning are conservative and cautious compared with those in Shanghai and Guangdong,'' the official said. He said the lack of activity had hit his company's bottom line. Guangxi Trust and Investment makes a profit of about 20,000 yuan every month. ''It doesn't even cover our running costs,'' he said. ''But we are at an early stage; in the long-term it will be more prosperous. ''It's just that at present, not many Nanning people have enough money to invest in stocks.'' Beijing plans to allow five billion yuan worth of new shares to be issued this year. Guangxi has a quota of 50 million yuan. But no Nanning company will list. ''We will focus on promoting shareholding companies first,'' said Mr Zhang of the Commission for Restructuring Economic Systems. This year, it will approve 30 shareholding companies, 14 of which were set in the last six months with a capital value of 490 million yuan. Next year, the government will grant 50 permits for shareholding companies. In order to avoid illegal transactions of internal shares, the Commission has set up a share trustee centre. ''The centre aims to develop regulations covering share transactions,'' said Mr Zhang. It is expected that a few more securities houses will open in the next two months. ''A lot of stock investors come from Liuzhou, Beihai and Guilin. Nanning, as a provincial capital, has to act as a financial hub for the province,'' said Mr Zhang.