The landmark Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, which is aimed at linking up the stock exchanges of Hong Kong and Shanghai, was officially launched on Monday.
Hong Kong stocks moved up 225.68 points, or 0.94 percent, to open at 24,313.06.
On the Southbound link, the first deal -- 8,000 shares in Cheung Kong Holdings were sold to mainland investors at a price of 142 HK dollars (18.32 U.S. dollars) each. The first transaction through the Northbound link went to Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. 32,700 shares in the dairy were purchased at a price of 26 yuan (4.3 U.S. dollars).
Speaking at its inauguration, Hong Kong's Chief Executive C Y Leung hailed the scheme as one of "historic significance for both Hong Kong and the mainland markets."
"The scheme creates synergy for the two stock markets by expanding the sources of investment and boosting their competitveness," Leung said.
He added that the Stock Connect will facilitate the gradual opening of the mainland's capital account and the internationalization of the RMB as an investment currency for global investors, thereby reinforcing Hong Kong's position as an international financial center and a premier offshore renminbi hub.
"It is a breakthrough in the opening up of China's financial markets and an important milestone in the development of Hong Kong as a unique gateway between the mainland and international investors," Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited C K Chow said at the launching ceremony.
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia said the priority now is to ensure that the scheme operates smoothly, while regulators will consider what room there is to improve the mechanism and expand the scheme in an orderly manner.
On the Southbound link, institutional investors and individuals with over 500,000 yuan in their brokerage accounts may trade Hong Kong shares through a broker on the Shanghai stock market; while heading Northbound, Hong Kong investors and international investors with Hong Kong brokerage accounts may trade shares listed on the Shanghai stock market.
The pilot scheme comes with limitations on the total RMB value of shares that can be traded through the exchanges. For the Northbound link, there is an aggregate cap of 300 billion yuan and 13 billion yuan daily. The aggregate Southbound trading quota is 250 billion yuan and 10.5 billion yuan daily.