Add the world’s biggest stock-index futures market to the list of casualties from China’s interventionist campaign to stop a $5 trillion equity rout.
Volumes in the country’s CSI 300 Index and CSI 500 Index futures sank to record lows on Tuesday after falling 99 percent from their June highs. Ranked by the World Federation of Exchanges as the most active market for index futures as recently as July, liquidity in China has dried up as authorities raised margin requirements, tightened position limits and started a police probe into bearish wagers.
While trading in Chinese equities has also slumped amid curbs on short sales and an investigation into computer-driven orders, the tumble in futures volumes may cause even greater damage because of their central role in the investment strategies of domestic hedge funds and other institutional money managers. A failure to revive the market would undercut the government’s own efforts to attract professional investors to local stock exchanges, where individuals still account for more than 80 percent of trades.
“It is further evidence that the Chinese authorities are not yet ready to commit to freely trading markets,” said Tony Hann, a London-based money manager at Blackfriars Asset Management, which oversees about $350 million. “Fully functioning developed financial markets in China will take many years.”
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