Hong Kong Stock Exchange
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) dates back to 1891 and has evolved to become the world's fifth largest stock exchange, and the third largest in Asia. Historical records show that there was informal trading of securities going on as far back as 1861 but the history of the HKSE starts just before the turn of the century. When it began it was named the Association of Stockbrokers in Hong Kong and that name held until 1914 when it was changed to its present day name, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Its first merger took place in 1947 when they took over the Hong Kong Stockbrokers Association. Trading continued as usual and the Hong Kong Stockholders Association Ltd. was founded in 1978. This association was created so that the existing stock exchanges could share information easily. Less than ten years later, in 1986, the HKSE merged with three other exchanges: the Far East Exchange Ltd.; the Kam Ngan Stock Exchange Ltd.; and the Kowloon Stock Exchange Ltd. Most recently, in 2000, the Hong Kong Futures Exchange Ltd. and Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Ltd. merged and became the holding company for the HKSE.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is a full exchange which lists stocks, funds, futures and options, warrants and bonds. Derivatives have been listed since 1976 and hedge funds have been traded there since 2008.
As of December 2011, there were 1,496 companies listed on the HKSE. The majority of the listed companies are from China and Hong Kong. Well known companies that are listed in Hong Kong include Air China (China's major airlines), Alibaba.com (an online retailer), China Railway, Beijing International Airport, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Mobile (phone and internet service provider), Cosco Pacific (import-export shipping), Crocodile Garments and Wumart Stores (retail stores). Most major banks, utilities, real estate and transportation companies from mainland China are listed on the exchange as well.
In January 2012 Hong Kong was ranked number one as the world's most economically free country, which will help its status as a great place to live, work and, most importantly, invest. Since Hong Kong developed under the influence of the British, the HKSE is more like a Western stock exchange than the one on the Chinese mainland. It offers more transparency and is regulated by different standards which gives investors, especially those based in the West, a better sense of security compared to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, which some see as being more risky.
Thanks to its good reputation, the HKSE is becoming a more popular stock exchange for the mainland Chinese companies to list their stocks and thus paving the way for companies to become familiar with the Asian stock markets.
Hong Kong's Financial District
Hong Kong's financial district is situated in Central, which is also referred to as Central District, and is home to a large number of major financial institutions including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Two International Finance Centre. Queens Road, which is located within the financial district, was the first road to be built by the government of Hong Kong.