Nasdaq-style bourse to debut in first half The mainland plans to launch the long-awaited Nasdaq-style market in the first half, a move to widen access to capital at a time of monetary tightening, according to China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Shang Fulin. It was the first time Mr Shang had unveiled a clear-cut timetable for the technology-laden market in Shenzhen. Addressing a recent CSRC annual meeting, Mr Shang also suggested the country would see a foreign-funded company floating yuan-denominated A shares for the first time this year. The CSRC 'is striving to make the capital markets more multi-layered', he said on the CSRC website. '[We] should try to launch the growth market in the first half of this year.' Mr Shang's remarks echoed market speculation that transforming Shenzhen's stock exchange into a Nasdaq-like second-board market was at the top of the regulator's agenda this year. CSRC put on hold its plan to launch index futures trading late last year as Beijing hoped to avoid further volatility that may be caused by the financial derivatives amid weak market sentiment. In the website statement, there was no mention of the index futures' timetable. 'We shall study the way to develop new futures contracts to keep in line with the country's economic growth,' Mr Shang said. It has been a decade since the mainland began to consider a technology-heavy market to fund start-up firms. Mr Shang said Beijing was making efforts to draw up a complete regulatory framework to facilitate the debut of Shenzhen's second-board market. 'The stock market will play an increasingly important role this year amid monetary tightening,' said Cheng Weiqing, chief strategist at Citic Securities. 'Market response will be good since companies will flock to the stock market for financing.' Beijing will lower the listing requirements for companies seeking share offerings on the growth market. Companies are not allowed to float shares unless they report profits for three years in a row. But under new rules that have not been made public, small technology firms will receive the go-ahead even after just two years of profits, according to sources. Meanwhile, the CSRC chairman said the mainland would keep pushing more red-chip and foreign-invested companies to sell A shares. Red chips are mainland companies incorporated overseas such as China Mobile and CNOOC. Mainland authorities are revising the rules to facilitate their listings. Beijing officially agreed last month to allow foreign firms to list A shares after the Sino-United States strategic economic dialogue. 'The red-chip firms will return to the mainland market very soon,' said a Shanghai stock exchange official who declined to be named. 'Foreign companies will follow on the heels of the red chips.'