China's new Nasdaq-style board begins trading

China Star Market

Reuters China Star Market

First proposed in November 2018, the new board is created to provide direct financing support for companies in the high-tech and strategic emerging sectors, such as new-generation information technology, advanced equipment, new materials, new energy, energy saving and environmental protection.

All of the first batch of 25 companies - ranging from chip-makers to biotech firms - more than doubled their already frothy IPO prices on the STAR Market, operated by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The new board marks China's most significant market reforms and officials hope it will one day be as renowned as Nasdaq.

The tech board is yet to draw any household names. These include the Alibaba-linked mobile-payments pioneer Ant Financial, ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing and online-services platform Meituan-Dianping.

That will take time - the Nasdaq has more than 3,000 companies listed and is one of the world's biggest exchanges.

By the close of business, this had created around 305 billion yuan (US$44.3 billion) in new market capitalization, according to Reuters' calculations.

It is a leap of faith for China's volatility-averse authorities as stocks have a relatively free rein.

China's main exchanges are subject to a 10% band to contain volatility on the often rumour-driven markets.

There will be no limits on price movements for the first five days of trading after which a daily 20% band will be imposed.

The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Hebei Jinniu Chemical Industry Co Ltd, up 10%, followed by Will Semiconductor Co Ltd Shanghai, gaining 8.51% and Toly Bread Co Ltd, up by 7.12%.

Xi has called on China's tech leaders to become global champions, while the U.S. has fought back in part by taking steps to clip the wings of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

The Shanghai company opened 287% higher than its initial public offering price before trading was suspended for 10 minutes during the morning session after it jumped by 404% to 197.6 yuan from 39.19 yuan.

China realized it needed to loosen up.

"The launch of the new board is a fresh sign China has shifted its focus from quantity and pace to quality in driving economic growth", Yu Peihua, the general manager of mutual fund AXA SPDB Investment Managers, told the South China Morning Post.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had a very good talk with his Chinese counterpart, amid signals from China that officials could soon meet face-to-face in their bid to end a yearlong trade war.

Analysts said regulators will go slow on growing the tech board to avoid that.

"The (main) markets are in a downturn now and if giant companies list on the tech board initially, market capital will be diverted. The market can not bear that", said Yang.

By contrast, the main board requires at least two years of profits before a company can join, a condition that has limited access for fledgling ventures.

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