November 4, 2007

Chinese plan to buy Hong Kong stocks may delay

Premier Wen Jiabao's comments on a plan to allow Chinese investors to buy Hong Kong stocks may signal a delay in its implementation. The government needs to study the risks, increase knowledge among Chinese investors and prepare regulations to protect the stock markets in Hong Kong and at home before launching the program.

China's currency regulator on Aug. 20 said Chinese investors in the northern Tianjin city's Binhai economic zone will be allowed to invest in Hong Kong stocks with a Bank of China Ltd. account. Since then, the benchmark Hang Seng Index has surged more than 40 percent. China is easing curbs on capital outflows as it battles with surging inflows that lead to higher inflation, soaring stock and property prices and excessive factory investments. The current-account surplus, a gap for trade in goods and services, widened 78 percent in the first six months of 2007 from a year earlier to $163 billion. The capital and financial account, a measure of investment flows, almost tripled to $90 billion.

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