Global uncertainty, weak yuan ensure muted start for Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect
Fund managers believe new cross-border scheme will bring long-term value, after disappointing day-one trade
Overseas market uncertainties, overpriced stocks and a weak yuan are among the reasons for the anticlimactic debut of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect on Monday, according to analysts.
International investors spent just 2.67 billion yuan buying stocks in Shenzhen via the northbound trading enabled by the new cross-border scheme, equivalent to 21 per cent of the daily quota. That’s far below the 13 billion yuan invested at the debut of the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect in November 2014, when the daily quota was used up by 2pm.
Southbound trade, in which mainlanders trade Hong Kong stocks via the scheme, stood at only HK$923 million on Monday, just 8 per cent of the daily quota and also well short of the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect debut which saw southbound trade of 1.8 billion yuan.
The figures also fall short of today’s turnover through the Shanghai link, which stood at 6.80 billion yuan in northbound and HK$4.43 billion in southbound trades.
Henry Chan , chief investment officer at BEA Union Investment Management, said the new link had to contend with more global political turmoil than its Shanghai counterpart two years ago. Today’s launch, which coincided with the Italian referendum that resulted in Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quitting, comes after Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union and ahead of crucial presidential elections in France and Germany next year.
“The HK-Shanghai Connect landed in the market when expectations of financial reforms and internationalisation of the Chinese yuan were building up,” Chan said.
Edmund Yun, head of investment solutions at French private bank CIC Investor Services, said stock valuations are much more expensive in Shenzhen compared with those in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The Shenzhen Composite forward price earning ratio for next year is expected to be at 25 times, compared with Shanghai’s 14 times and Hang Seng’s 11.5 multiple.
Yun said comments at the weekend by China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Shiyu slamming ‘abnormal phenomena’ within the capital market also led to some sell-off.
“Given the fact that the Chinese yuan is targeted to link with a basket of currencies rather than just the US dollar, further weakness in the euro and Japanese yen would put more pressure on the yuan going forward and hence will affect the valuation of H-shares in Hong Kong and the appetite for Chinese stocks in general,” Yun said, adding that there are also fears China may introduce more capital control policies to avoid further outflow.
Ken Wong, Asia equity portfolio specialist at Eastspring Investments, said many mutual fund managers may have been unable to trade through the new connect scheme on Monday as it was announced only a week before its launch.
“A lot of fund houses might have not been able to make all the necessary legal wording changes to their offering documents and hence there might only be a limited number of funds that can fully trade the new stock connect,” Wong said.
Brett McGonegal, chief executive of Capital Link International, said: “A weak debut isn’t a vote of no confidence in the new Hong Kong and Shenzhen connect but rather a symbol of eyeballs and focus being away from China now on some real issues happening in the world.”
McGonegal believes the new connect scheme is “another success in the long line of market reforms that are steadily gaining international respect for the Chinese markets and regulators.”
Hong Kong Investment Funds Association chief executive Sally Wong also said the Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock connect has strategic significance, providing a channel for international investors to enjoy greater access to mainland markets.
Keith Pogson, a senior partner at EY, said there are far fewer index constituent stocks in Shenzhen and hence a smaller “immediate” attraction for investors who track indices.
“Over time, we would expect to see large volumes as more investors see the opportunities and gain comfort in a process that should hopefully work well. As with many stock markets , volume gets volume,” Pogson said.