It’s decision time for MSCI inclusion as global rally bypasses China

BEIJING • China’s fourth attempt at cracking into MSCI Inc’s benchmark share indexes comes with its best chance of success — and the least at stake.

In what’s become an annual event, MSCI will announce at 4:30am Hong Kong time today whether China’s domestic stocks have won inclusion.

Previous efforts have foundered on concern over repatriation limits and excessive trading suspensions, obstacles the index compiler has sought to overcome with a less ambitious proposal.

While the decision still holds weight for investors, the swings of the nation’s US$6.9 trillion (RM29.57 trillion) equity market are losing relevance for traders in London and New York more attuned to a global technology rally and signals from the US Federal Reserve.

Even if yuan-denominated shares are added, they would be dwarfed by overseas-listed Chinese stocks, which have an increasing sway over MSCI’s developing nation gauge.

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has struggled this year amid a government campaign to cut risk in the financial sector and waning interest by the nation’s army of individual investors.

The gauge has fallen more than 4% since its mid-April peak, the most among major global peers, helping send correlation ratios with the rest of the world to below zero.

While mainland equities have been losing value, the nation’s stocks traded offshore have surged toward two-year highs, led by technology firms.

The MSCI China Index has jumped 25% in 2017, helping propel Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd into the ranks of the world’s largest companies with market values of more than US$330 billion each.

The gains by Tencent and others mean Chinese companies already account for six of the 10 largest companies by weighting on the MSCI Emerging Markets Index as of the end of last month, and eight of the 10 biggest by market value.

Under the latest proposal, the total allocation of yuan-denominated A shares would be just 0.5% of the gauge, half the previous suggested level and equivalent to the current weighting of Netease Inc, a Chinese game and website operator worth US$41 billion. — Bloomberg