Hong Kong-Shanghai stock trading link gets green light from regulators

Regulators gave the green light on Monday to a cross-border trading link allowing investors in Shanghai and Hong Kong to buy and sell shares on both exchanges.

The long-awaited approval for the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect link will give foreign investors greater access to China's stock market.

In a joint statement, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission said trading via the link would start on Nov. 17.

Approval had been widely expected to come in October.

Foreign access to China's stock markets is closely managed, mainly through a quota program for institutions that represents a sliver of the overall market.

While Hong Kong is officially considered a part of China after Beijing regained control of the former British colony in 1997, the Asian financial center has its own separate legal and financial system and currency.

The trading link is also expected to promote international use of China's tightly controlled currency as well as boost Hong Kong's role as a hub for yuan trading. China is gradually loosening controls on its currency and movements of capital. But it is likely to be many years before its financial markets and banking industry are sophisticated enough for full liberalization.

Authorized investors in both cities will be allowed to buy and sell up to 23.5 billion yuan ($3.8 billion) of stocks in certain companies each day through the link. Mainland Chinese investors will get up to 10.5 billion yuan of that daily limit, while investors in Hong Kong get the rest.

To prepare for the launch, numerous training and education sessions were held and market participants also had to agree trading rules and other operational arrangements.

"The stock exchanges and the clearing houses have completed a series of market rehearsals with market participants in both markets and reported that the systems are ready and contingency plans are in place," the regulators said in a statement.