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China Stocks Slide as Liu’s Vows Underwhelm, Covid Woes Continue

Stock Markets May 18, 2022 07:34
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© Reuters.

(Bloomberg) -- Tech stocks led a broad decline in China markets on Wednesday as support pledges from Vice Premier Liu He lacked fresh detail and new virus outbreaks around key cities weighed on investor sentiment.

The Hang Seng Tech Index fell as much as 2.3%, having rallied nearly 6% in the previous session. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index and China’s CSI 300 Index both slid as much as 1%. 

The pullback suggests Tuesday’s much-anticipated meeting between Liu, China’s top economic official, and some of the nation’s tech giants disappointed traders awaiting bolder policy shifts. Concerns related to Covid-19 remained in focus as cases rose in Tianjin and a cluster was ballooning in Sichuan province.

“Although investors are aware that there won’t be many punitive measures for tech from now, Covid concerns will continue to depress valuations across the board,” said Hou Anyang, fund manager at Frontsea Asset Management. The meeting wasn’t enough to ease worries, he added.  

READ: China Economy Czar Vows Support for Tech Firms After Crackdown

At a Tuesday conference, Liu said the government will support the development of digital economy companies and their listing overseas. While that sparked a more than 5% rally in a gauge of Chinese stocks trading in the US, the excitement waned in the Asia session.

Meanwhile, data showing home prices fell for an eighth month in April amid strict coronavirus lockdowns added to investor woes. The deepening slump is another blow to China’s embattled property sector, which the authorities have sought to support as part of efforts to halt a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

“It is difficult to assess if Chinese equities have bottomed, especially with more economic pain to come as authorities persist on the Zero Covid path,” said Eli Lee, head of investment strategy at Bank of Singapore. 

More than a year into Beijing’s sweeping regulatory crackdown on private enterprise, investors remain wary about getting back into the sector.

Still, in a sign of optimism, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) analysts upgraded a number of tech firms including Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY) Ltd. to overweight earlier this week, just two months after deeming the sector “uninvestable.”  

Where China’s stock market goes from here will hinge on whether policy makers follow through on their promises, and the nation’s Covid-19 situation.

Chinese equities may set “lower lows into the year-end” as the US raises interest rates and scuppers global risk appetite, said Ilya Spivak, head of Greater Asia at DailyFX. “Rising interest rates mean people are resistant to taking risk, which means they are that much more responsive to things like regulatory disruptions or Covid lockdowns.”

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

China Stocks Slide as Liu’s Vows Underwhelm, Covid Woes Continue
 

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