HKEx plans to launch Asian FX futures, gold contracts

HONG KONG, April 12 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong stock exchange plans to launch renminbi currency futures contracts against the Indonesian rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit in the coming months, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Charles Li told an industry event the exchange plans to launch the currency pairs “sometime in the coming months” without giving a specific time frame.

There has been a growing push by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx), one of the top five exchanges in Asia, to diversify its revenue streams away from its traditional equity trading business because of weak stock markets.

“If 2015 was the year of equity, 2016 is the year of derivatives, futures and options,” Li said.

Investor demand for equities in both Hong Kong and the mainland has cooled in recent months due to a weaker outlook for corporate earnings and a slowing economy.

Net purchases of mainland shares under a landmark Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme launched in October 2014 remains low. The northbound aggregate quota usage remains 42 percent while the southbound, or the Hong Kong leg is at 54 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In contrast, its offshore renminbi/dollar currency futures contract launched in September 2012, has gone from strength to strength.

For example, February marked a record high in turnover with more than 3,700 contracts traded due to increased volatility in global currency markets, according to stock exchange data.

Li also said the exchange hopes to launch a gold settled contract in the third quarter of 2016. (Reporting by Michelle Price; Writing by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)