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MSCI adds China-listed stocks to index in long awaited move

Kelvin Chan, AP Business Writer

HONG KONG (AP) -- Global stock benchmark provider MSCI has made a long-awaited decision to add mainland China-listed shares to its widely followed stock indexes.

MSCI said Tuesday that it's including yuan-denominated "A-shares" of 222 large Chinese companies to its Emerging Markets index.

It said the stocks represent 0.7 percent of the index and they will be added in a two-step process in 2018.

It's an important step for China's communist leaders, who have been pushing to more closely integrate their country's markets and currency with the global financial system.

MSCI's indexes are closely followed by fund managers and the move could draw more foreign investment to Chinese firms, though analysts said they didn't expect an immediate flood of money because the two-phase implementation is still a year away.

In three previous index reviews, the benchmarker has held off on adding Chinese shares because of worries about limited access for foreign investors to the country's markets.

To address those concerns, it's only adding shares available through two cross-border trading links that have opened up since 2014 between Hong Kong's stock market and exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen on the mainland. These "Stock Connect" links give foreign investors wider access to the mainland's markets, which are mostly restricted to local investors.

"International investors have embraced the positive changes in the accessibility of the China A-shares market over the last few years and now all conditions are set for MSCI to proceed with the first step of the inclusion," Managing Director Remy Briand said in a statement. "The expansion of Stock Connect has been a game change for the market opening of China A-shares."