China stock market

China’s stock market nears low of 2015 crash after drug makers slide amid Beijing crackdown on industry

Regulator vows to clean up health care industry after vaccine scandal, sending shares of biopharmaceutical companies tumbling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 7:07pm

China’s stocks dropped for a fifth day, nearing the low of the 2015 market rout, as Beijing vowed to clean up the health care sector in the wake of a vaccine scandal and concerns deepened about a slowdown in growth.

The Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.3 per cent on Friday, ending the week with a 4.5 per cent decline.

That is just 0.5 per cent shy of the nadir set in January 2015 after the rout that erased US$5 trillion in market value.

In contrast, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose for the first time after five days of losses, ending up 0.4 per cent.

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Selling in the mainland equity markets accelerated in the afternoon session, with Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products and other biopharmaceutical companies bearing the brunt of the hammering.

On Thursday night, the Politburo, the Communist Party’s highest decision-making body, sacked four top officials from Jilin province and the drug administration after a local medical company was found to have forged data on a rabies vaccine last month.

Hours later, China’s drug administration said it would begin an all-out inspection of products from medicines and medical equipment to cosmetics.

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“Investors now have doubt in their mind that the move will slow down or even put to a stop the reforms in the health care industry and the development of China’s own proprietary drugs,” said Dai Ming, a fund manager at Hengsheng Asset Management in Shanghai.

“The old concerns about slowing growth and the trade war are still there to unnerve investors. We don’t see much confidence in the market,” he said.

The latest economic data and a stalemate in the trade war with the US have clouded China’s growth outlook. July fixed-asset investment and retail sales both decelerated, and no progress has been made to resolve the trade spat, although China is sending a vice commence minster to the US for a low-level round of talks.

China stocks tumble, pushing equity valuations below 2015 market lows

The Shanghai Composite fell 36.22 points to 2,668.97 on Friday. The CSI 300 Index of large companies retreated 1.4 per cent, and the ChiNext gauge of small caps shed 2 per cent.

Among the biggest decliners, Shenzhen Kangtai tumbled 8.9 per cent to 42.49 yuan and biological firm Changchun High and New Technology Industries sank 6.7 per cent to 198.01 yuan. Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical slid 6.7 per cent to 30.65 yuan.

Changsheng Bio-Technology, which is at the centre of the vaccine scandal and is facing the risk of being delisted, tumbled 5 per cent to a record low of 4.92 yuan.

Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development, China’s biggest pork processor, rebounded 0.7 per cent to 22.56 yuan after slumping by the 10 per cent daily limit a day earlier. The company said it butchered all the 1,362 pigs in a slaughter house after African swine flu was detected in a newly transported group of the herd. The house will be sealed off for six months, it said.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index gained 113.35 points to 27,213.41, paring a weekly loss to 4.1 per cent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, or the H-share gauge, added 0.3 per cent.

Tencent Holdings rebounded 3.4 per cent to HK$337, halting a streak of five days of losses after posting its first quarterly profit decline since at least 2005.