China consumer stocks rally as Beijing moves to boost domestic consumption amid trade war

  • Hang Seng Index edges up 0.2 per cent; Shanghai Composite Index slips 0.2 per cent
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 6:59pm

Chinese consumer stocks advanced on Thursday in Hong Kong, lifting the city’s benchmark index higher, after China’s State Council said it will continue with and expand its cross border e-commerce retail imports policies to boost domestic consumption amid the US-China trade war.

Want Want China, the country’s largest maker of rice cakes and flavoured milk, jumped 2.9 per cent to close at HK$5.75. It was the biggest percentage gainer on Thursday among the components of the Hang Seng Index.

Uni-President China Holdings, the country’s biggest juice drinks producer and also an instant noodles supplier, rose 3.2 per cent to HK$7.76. Dali Foods Group, a baked goods company, gained 1.5 per cent to HK$5.95. Hengan International Group, China’s largest producer of sanitary towels and baby diapers, also rose by 1 per cent to HK$63.85.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index ended 0.2 per cent, or 47.94 points, up at 26,019.41. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also known as the H-shares index, however, dropped 0.4 per cent, or 39.34 points, to 10,446.43. Turnover on the main board decreased by 13 per cent from Wednesday to HK$67.7 billion.

The gains in consumer stocks came after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang chaired a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday, where it was decided that existing policies on cross border e-commerce retail imports would continue and be expanded to “broaden the opening up and to stimulate the potential of domestic demand”.

The current policies will continue past January 1, 2019 and there will be no new requirements on importers for licensing, registration or record filing. Instead, these goods will receive more relaxed regulation as imports for personal use.

The policies will also be expanded from 15 cities originally to include 22 new cities, such as Beijing, Shenyang, Xiamen, Wuhan and Xiamen.

The State Council’s decision follows a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who this month at the China International Import Expo said the country will lower tariffs, boost domestic consumption and support cross border e-commerce.

Several investment banks released reports on Thursday and said extension of the policies had eased regulatory concerns, and that they would benefit sectors such as nutritional products, baby milk formula and beauty products.

Citi said the decision indicated the Chinese government was clear and firm on supporting cross border e-commerce, and its decision had exceeded market expectations.

Capital markets and investment group CLSA said Health & Happiness International Holdings, a supplier of paediatric nutritional and baby care products, will be the biggest beneficiary of the policy extension. It reiterated a “buy” rating, with a target price of HK$70. Daiwa Capital also maintained a “buy” rating on the stock, with a target price of HK$72.

Health & Happiness International soared by 5.7 per cent on Wednesday to HK$51.75.

Property stocks, however, were weak. Country Garden lost 3.5 per cent to HK$9.34, China Vanke fell 3.6 per cent to HK$27.00 and Sunac China dropped 3.3 per cent to HK$25.15.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.2 per cent to 2,645.43, the Shenzhen Component Index slipped by 0.2 per cent to 7,893.99 and the start-up board index ChiNext lost 0.7 per cent to 1,353.92.

Financials and real estate developers dropped. Tianfeng Securities sank by 8 per cent. Sealand Securities fell 3.1 per cent. Vanke and Poly Developments and Holdings were both down by 1.5 per cent.

Car makers pulled higher, with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group and BAIC BluePark New Energy both soaring by 10 per cent. Great Wall Motors rose 1.1 per cent.