International investment research-to-ratings groups, Standard & PoorÆs and CITIC Securities, yesterday (February 16) announced the formation a new joint venture aimed at developing a series of new benchmark indices for the Chinese securities market.

The 50-50 joint venture, which will be named Standard & PoorÆs/CITIC Index Service, formalises an existing relationship between the groups.

According to S&P, the new joint venture ôwill develop new and innovative indices to meet the changing needs of domestic and international investors, and will promote financial innovation and global participation in ChinaÆs equities and fixed income marketö.

S&P president Kathleen Corbet says: ôWith ChinaÆs rapid integration into the global financial markets, we expect increasing demand for innovative Chinese investment products that meet global standards.ö

In March 2004 the pair launched the S&P/CITIC 50 A-Share tradable index and the S&P/CITIC 300 A-shares benchmark index, with the latter now claiming to have 13 companies and 19 funds using it to track performance.

The pair has since launched a number of other indices, including the S&P/CITIC China 30 Index, which aims to provide ôbest in class exposure to ChinaÆs economic potentialö by combining the 30 largest blue chip enterprises from the 250-plus Chinese stocks listed outside China.

Robert Shakotko, S&PÆs managing director of index services, says he hopes the S&P/CITIC series will eventually become the ôglobally-accepted yardstick by which Chinese equity markets are measuredö.