(MENAFN - AFP) Chinese government bond futures rose on their debut on Friday as authorities lifted an 18-year ban on the product as part of efforts to speed up economic reforms.
Futures for settlement in December 2013, the shortest-dated and most actively traded of the three contracts available, opened at 94.220 yuan (15.4) from their benchmark price of 94.168 yuan, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
"Trading is more active than expected due to relatively cheap valuations of the contracts," Cao Zili, a Beijing-based analyst with Hongyuan Futures, told AFP.
"Investors may also be betting on rising valuations of spot bonds," he said. "But the contracts will likely remain rangebound today as spot price fluctuations are relatively limited."
Futures contracts are agreements to deliver or receive an underlying financial instrument or commodity at a set date and predetermined price.
China halted trading of bond futures in 1995 after a firm then called Wanguo Securities placed 140 billion yuan worth, or 17 billion at the time, of sell orders for one contract in the last few minutes of trading, causing the price to plummet.
The order was several times larger than the entire stock of the relevant bonds in issue at the time.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange, where the futures were traded, later declared the order invalid, but authorities removed the head of the exchange and sentenced Guan Jinsheng, the former chief of Wanguo -- which lost more than 6.0 billion yuan -- to 17 years in jail.
Analysts say the new futures will offer financial institutions a hedging tool to manage interest rate volatility as Beijing moves towards market-set rates.
The contracts will be allowed to move a maximum four percent on either side of their benchmark prices on the listing day, and two percent in either direction from the second trading day.
China's central bank in July scrapped limits on bank lending rates, a major step towards liberalisation.
The government has not hinted when it might scrap limits on deposit rates, but has pledged to push further freedoms to better allocate capital.