Index provider MSCI (NYSE: MSCI) is slated to announce the results of its annual market classification review on June 9 and market observers are focusing on whether or not MSCI will elevate China A-shares into its global benchmarks.
There is speculation that MSCI could postpone its A-shares classification decision until later this year after Shenzhen joins the Stock Connect program. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect launched in November aimed at increasing securities trading between Hong Kong and mainland China. Shenzhen-listed stocks have been called China’s version of the Nasdaq, which could imply MSCI has good reason to wait until after the launch of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Stock Connect before rendering a decision on A-shares’ classification. [Rushing to A-Shares ETFs]
“The Stock Connect scheme is not due to add Shenzhen shares, which represent a large chunk of China’s equity market, until later this year leading to speculation MSCI may review A share inclusion again in the autumn if it decides not to push ahead this month,” according to Reuters.
China’s A-shares have been among the world’s best performers and five of the top 10 non-leveraged U.S. ETFs this year are A-shares funds. After faltering last week on news of increased margin requirements on mainland China, ETFs such as the Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares Fund (NYSEArca: ASHR) and the Market Vectors ChinaAMC A-Share ETF (NYSEArca: PEK), the oldest A-shares ETF trading in the U.S., could be vulnerable to MSCI delaying its classification decision. [Upping the Ante With China ETFs]
On May 26, MSCI rival FTSE Russell said it will transition A-shares into global benchmarks, meaning A-shares will eventually join the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO), the largest emerging markets ETF by assets. However, $1.7 trillion tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, the underlying index for the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), meaning MSCI’s treatment of A-shares is widely followed by global investors. [A-Shares ETFs Surge on FTSE News]
There is precedent for the Stock Connect scheme not being enough to prompt index providers to elevate A-shares into marquee global benchmarks. Soon after the debut of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, FTSE said the Stock Connect program is a step in the right direction, but not enough to merit a promotion of China’s A-shares equities to emerging markets status.