A customer is paying attention to the Chinese stock market at a stock exchange in Hangzhou, China, on January 22, 2024.
China Securities Regulatory Commission vowed on Sunday to prevent “abnormal market fluctuations.”But China’s markets continued volatile trade on Monday. Analysts are wary about calling a bottom.China’s stock markets have already lost about $7 trillion since peaking in 2021.
China’s stock market watchdog upped its game over the weekend after its brutal week of selloff, vowing to prevent “abnormal market fluctuations” — but stock market investors don’t seem quite convinced.
On Sunday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or CSRC, said it will crack down on short-selling and insider trading, attract more investment from medium and long-term funds, and “seriously listen to the voices of investors.” It didn’t specify what measures it would be taking.
The statement came after the blue-chip CSI 300 Index plunged as much as 3.4% on Friday — even though Chinese authorities pulled about a dozen moves in January to try to stabilize a stock market rout and support downbeat property market demand.
However, Beijing’s moves to shore up confidence have come too late, wrote Vishnu Varathan, the chief economist for Asia Asia ex-Japan at Mizuho Bank, in a note on Monday.
China’s markets continue their volatile trade, reflecting investor uncertainty.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.2% at 4:08 p.m. local time after dropping 1.3% earlier on Monday. It has already lost about 9% so far this year to date. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 1% after falling 3.5% intraday.
Meanwhile, the blue-chip CSI 300 was 0.7% higher after falling 2.1% intraday and is 6.7% lower year to date. The CSI 1000 Index, which tracks small-cap shares, tumbled as much as 8.7% intraday and was 6.2% lower.
These continued gyrations in China and Hong Kong’s stock markets have widened losses that are now totaling $7 trillion following an extended market meltdown since their peaks in 2021, as foreign investors beeline for the exit.
Even so, it may still be “too early to call the bottom,” Nomura economists wrote in a note on Monday.
After all, China’s economy — the world’s second-largest economy — is still struggling to stage a convincing recovery more than a year after it started lifting COVID-19 lockdowns. Its multiple challenges include a property crisis, deflationary pressure, and a demographic crisis.
Manufacturing activity of large and state-owned companies contracted for the fourth straight month in January, official data showed on Wednesday. This suggests the economic dip is “ongoing and is likely to worsen,” wrote the Nomura economists.
Still, Beijing’s frequent pronouncements on market stabilization may not be a bad thing. They mark a departure from the reservations Beijing had last year about stimulating the debt-laden economy as it seeks to develop sustainably after decades of breakneck growth.
“The frequency of these statements may indicate market stabilization is becoming more important for policymakers,” wrote analysts at Dutch bank ING wrote on Monday.
“Formalization of a potential market stabilization fund could provide a short-term boost for markets but investor sentiment remains downbeat for now, awaiting improvement in fundamentals,” the ING analysts added.
In January, Bloomberg reported that Beijing is considering a 2 trillion Chinese yuan, or $282 billion, package to stabilize the market, but this has not yet come to pass.
China’s stocks markets will be closed on Friday and the whole of next week for Chinese New Year holidays.