Hang Seng Debuts New Index of Benchmark-Beating Tech Stocks
A pedestrian walks past an electronic ticker board and a screen displaying stock figures outside the Exchange Square complex, which houses the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

Hang Seng Debuts New Index of Benchmark-Beating Tech Stocks

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A new index focused on China’s technology giants is set to give investors greater access to their growing dominance in Hong Kong’s market.

The Hang Seng Tech Index, which launched Monday with backdated prices, tracks the 30 largest tech companies listed in the city, including Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Meituan Dianping and Xiaomi Corp. Tracking the gauge this year would have returned 44% for investors, versus a loss of 13% for the Hang Seng Index. The tech measure fell 1.3% Monday.

“All the conditions are now ready for large China tech stocks whether in China or already listed elsewhere,” Vincent Kwan, chief executive officer of index compiler Hang Seng Indexes Co., said on Bloomberg Television Monday.

Hang Seng Debuts New Index of Benchmark-Beating Tech Stocks

The move comes at a time when further listings of Chinese technology firms are in the pipeline, such as Jack Ma’s Ant Group, following those of NetEase Inc. and JD.com Inc. Listing closer to home has become more attractive as tensions between Washington and Beijing threaten to curtail Chinese companies’ access to U.S. capital markets.

Hang Seng Debuts New Index of Benchmark-Beating Tech Stocks

The compiler of the Hang Seng Index has already embraced change through moves such as scrapping a weighting limit for dual-class shares on some of its gauges. The tech index is seen helping investors bridge a gap between a Hong Kong benchmark overstuffed with old economy banks and insurers, and the technology companies that have emerged as big winners in the city’s beaten-down market.

“There are too many laggards in the Hang Seng Index,” said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International Hong Kong. “With overseas-listed Chinese firms deciding to list closer-to-home, the Hong Kong market falls short in terms of having a representative index for these stocks. This new index serves to fill this gap and drive capital flows.”

Citi analysts led by Pierre Lau wrote in a recent note that the index will attract investors to other Hong Kong tech stocks, facilitate the issuance of index-linked funds and derivatives as well as boost turnover at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. That stock is up 40% this year, most in the Hang Seng Index.

Supported by strong mainland inflows through stock connect links, Chinese technology shares have emerged as big winners in Hong Kong this year. Tencent has surged 38% while Meituan is up 82%.

The Hang Seng Index, on the other hand, has underperformed. Nearly half of its members have fallen at least 20% this year.

Morgan Stanley sees the new technology gauge providing a bigger sentiment boost near-term to the MSCI China Index than the Hang Seng, which has few components that will also be in the tech index. “The direct stock-level positives cannot translate into a meaningful index-level boost,” analysts led by Laura Wang wrote.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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