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China stock rout may worsen, as analysts warn of prolonged losses

They say the selling is likely to go on as factors like trade tensions, bond defaults and deleveraging worry investors

The Shanghai Composite Index closed at 2,844.51 points on Tuesday, 20% below a January high. A Hang Seng measure of Chinese companies in Hong Kong is down 19% from 5 months ago.

Hong Kong

CHINESE stocks sunk into a bear market Tuesday, and analysts expect losses to deepen as concerns over China's economy, yuan weakness and a trade feud with the US continue to rattle investors.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed at 2,844.51 points, 20 per cent below a January high, denoting a bear market. A Hang Seng measure of Chinese companies in Hong Kong is down 19 per cent from five months ago. The yuan weakened 0.3 per cent to its lowest since Dec 28.

Here's what some analysts have to say about the performance of China's stocks:

  • Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co: "There's still a lot of selling pressure. Investors are rushing to exit to avoid risk. Lots of people listened to brokers' advice to build positions around 3,000, betting on a rebound. They are now under big pressure to sell. The main reason for the plunge in Chinese stocks is slowing economic growth rather than pledged shares or the trade war. The key thing is that fundamentals in China are very bad. The market started to correct even before the trade war flared up. Hard to say shares have hit a bottom. And it's hard for the government to solve the issue as it can't flood the markets with new money."
  • Tai Hui, JPMorgan Asset Management Inc chief APAC market strategist: "Market volatility in China is brought about by combination of factors: US-China trade tension, concern over corporate bond defaults and uncertainty on the growth outlook. Corporate bond defaults are arguably biggest worry at this point. Sentiment towards equities is likely to remain cautious for rest of this year. Many onshore investors are mindful that authorities have deleveraging and financial risk reduction as a long-term objective, despite their willingness to provide liquidity near-term. Trade dispute impact is probably exaggerated. Many Chinese companies focus domestically and don't have direct trade links with the US. Consumer sentiment in China remains positive. I see structural demand for consumer services, such as healthcare and education services."
  • Sun Jianbo, China Vision Capital president in Beijing: "This is a typical bear market where the index keeps falling below supportive levels. Not the bottom yet. Pessimism will keep growing as many companies are on the edge of margin calls and bond defaults. Those will cause further sell-offs. Shanghai Composite could fall at least another 10 per cent. Some long-term funds, including the so-called national team, may be interested in buying in the bear market zone."
  • Qian Qimin, Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co strategist based in Shanghai: "Plunge in US stocks overnight hurt confidence. Liquidity usually very tight in banking system as end of June approaches. Weakening yuan is hurting companies with high levels of dollar debt and exporters, dragging down some large caps such as airlines. Chinese airlines are become collateral damage in trade war with the US. I don't see the bottom yet. The market may keep falling since it's still hard to gauge the impact of trade tensions and investors will keep cutting risk."
  • Catherine Yeung, investment director at Fidelity International: "Markets initially rose Monday following RRR cut, but the trade issue overhang is taking centrestage and will probably see a lot more volatility. China may do more to support the market, potentially ramping up fixed-asset investment, though it still needs to go through the deleveraging process. The People's Bank of China is in a better place than other central banks because it still has the tool set. Consumers are still spending. It's not beyond the realm of possibility for China in the long-term to do bilateral deals with everyone else outside of the US, which surely isn't good for American consumers. China could still be an outperforming market this year because we've already seen it down, and maybe developed markets will see some outflows due to ongoing tensions. The Chinese government has a flexible approach in terms of policy tools."
  • Lu Jie, head of China research at Robeco Investment Management: "Amid A-share sell-off, foreign investors would favour defensive stocks such as consumer goods that benefit from consumption upgrade while avoiding a hit from the trade war. The upward trend in foreign fund inflows to China A shares is just beginning." BLOOMBERG

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