China stocks tumble, pushing equity valuations below 2015 market lows

Insurance companies and property developers led declines in Shanghai on Monday, as the benchmark index fell 2.5 per cent on the first day of trade in the second half

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 4:39pm

China’s stock markets snapped back into a declining trend on Monday, with valuations sinking to levels lower than the aftermath of the 2015 crash, dragged by concerns of a trade war with the US and a potential economic slowdown brought on by the crackdown on shadow banking.

The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 2.5 per cent on Monday, giving up gains from a 2.2 per cent rebound on Friday. Monday’s declines have pushed the broad market to a valuation of 10.3 times forward earnings for the next 12 months on a weekly basis, the lowest since December 2014, according to Bloomberg data. Hong Kong’s market was shut for a public holiday.

Large companies, including property developers and insurance companies, paced the declines as traders continued to offload their equity holdings before the release of second-quarter economic growth due out in mid-July, which will provide the first snapshot of China’s economic strength after trade tensions with the US flared up.

While a purchasing managers’ index released over the weekend showed the manufacturing industry was still expanding in June, a sub-gauge of new export orders fell below the line indicating contraction, stoking concern that external demand is weakening.

“All eyes will be on the economic data this month and there’s a lot of downside pressure on the economy on the backdrop of the trade war,” said Wu Kan, a fund manager at Shanshan Finance in Shanghai. “The stock market is still seeking its bottom and we may be pretty close to it now, given the magnitude of the decline in the first half.”

The Shanghai Composite slid 14 per cent in the six months through June, making it the worst-performing benchmark among the world’s major markets, even as its yuan-traded stocks were added to MSCI’s global gauges for the first time in June.

The index lost 71.86 points to 2,775.56 at the close on Monday. The CSI 300 Index of large companies sank 2.9 per cent and the technology-heavy ChiNext gauge tracking growth stocks shed 1.1 per cent.

A depreciating yuan also weighed on equities as the yuan dropped 0.4 per cent against the US dollar to 6.649, the lowest level in seven months.

A gauge of property stocks on the Shanghai Composite tumbled 5.4 per cent, its steepest single-day drop since February, as the rout on the sector continued after the housing ministry said last week it will start a six-month clampdown on the industry and some local governments raised the threshold for home purchases by individuals.

Poly Real Estate Group plunged 9.8 per cent to 11.01 yuan and China Fortune Land Development slumped 7.8 per cent to 23.75 yuan. China Vanke slid 7.3 per cent to 22.80 yuan.

Insurers were also among the biggest decliners on mounting concern declining equities will curb their investment gains. China Pacific Insurance Group sank 6.5 per cent to 29.77 yuan and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China fell 5.7 per cent to 55.22 yuan. China Life Insurance dropped 4.4 per cent to 21.52 yuan.