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Pension funds’ investment choices may widen

Li Xiang
Updated: Apr 11,2015 9:35 AM     China Daily

The country is poised to widen the scope of permitted investments for the pension funds of public institutions, regulators said on April 10.

The news came amid a dramatic rally in the nation’s equities market. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.94 percent to end at 4,034.31 points - the first time it finished above the 4,000 level since 2008.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission said that it will support qualified securities firms and mutual funds to manage the pension funds for civil servants and public-sector employees through market-based investment channels.

As of Dec 31, the CSRC said, 1.01 trillion yuan ($160 billion) of the country’s social security fund and corporate annuity fund was being managed by professional financial institutions.

Policymakers have yet to announce detailed investment regulations for the pension funds of public institutions. But if regulators expand access to the equities markets for these funds, it will give a further boost to share prices, analysts said.

The social security fund has achieved an annual investment return of 8.36 percent since 2001, while the corporate annuity fund has realized an annual investment yield of 7.87 percent since 2007, according to the CSRC.

On April 10, shares of commodities and consumer companies led gains as economic data showed easing disinflationary pressure.

The consumer price index rose 1.4 percent in March, slightly above market expectations.

Trading on the over-the-counter market has also surged as investors place bets on startups and innovative companies that are expected to benefit from the shift of the country’s economic growth model.

Average daily transaction value has reached 687 million yuan, 13 times that of last year.

The CSRC warned investors of the risks of speculative trading in the OTC market and pledged to closely monitor irregular price movements in the market.

Even the nation’s foreign currency-denominated B-share market gained, surging to a seven-year high on April 10 after years of neglect by investors.

In a separate comment about opening the futures market to international participants, the CSRC said that conditions are not in place for foreign futures exchanges to set up commodity settlement warehouses in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

But the regulator said it would pursue further opening of the futures market and help establish the nation’s first crude oil futures contract.

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