China Stocks Fall; Benchmark Index at Half Its Record High (A Bloomberg Report)
China's stocks dropped, dragging the to almost 50 percent below its October record, as a government campaign to restrain inflation turned the world's most expensive equity market into this year's worst performer.
Citic Securities Co., China's biggest publicly traded brokerage, and Kweichow Moutai Co., which makes the fiery liquor used at official banquets, led a ninth day of declines amid speculation central bank policies will erode corporate earnings.
The CSI 300, which tracks yuan-denominated A shares listed on China's two exchanges, fell 26.88, or 0.9 percent, to 2,952.24 at the close after falling as low as 2,900.07. The index, which closed at a record 5,877.20 on October 16, swung between gains and losses at least five times today.
The measure dropped 19 percent within nine days, matching the longest winning streak ended on Aug. 7, 2006, and wiping off $1.74 billion in market capitalization this year.
The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China's stock exchanges, added 0.2 percent to 2,874.10, the first advance in nine days.
``Inflation and slowing corporate earnings growth constitute major worries that have made investors stay away from equities,'' said Zhang Ling, who manages $1.1 billion at ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management Co. in Beijing. ``A rebound is reasonable now, given the magnitude of the correction.''
China Merchants Bank Co., the nation's biggest dual- currency credit-card issuer, had its largest advance in a month, while China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, climbed the most in four weeks.
Citic Securities fell 3.3 percent to 26.62 yuan, the lowest since April 18. Moutai retreated 2.8 percent to 144.50 yuan.
China United Telecommunications Corp., which controls the nation's second-largest cell phone operator, retreated 3.1 percent to 6.92 yuan. China Shenhua Energy Co., the nation's largest coal producer, slipped 0.9 percent to 39.07 yuan.
The CSI 300 is down 45 percent this year, the most among benchmark indexes from the world's 20 biggest equity markets, as China's government stepped up efforts to control increases in consumer prices.
It had climbed almost sixfold in two years as China's economic growth surged and an influx of more than 300,000 investors a day pushed shares on the index to the most expensive valuation among the world's largest stock markets.
A gauge tracking financial stocks including Merchants Bank rose 0.9 percent today, the only increase among the CSI 300's 10 industry groups. The measure of financial shares tumbled 17 percent last week.
The central bank has moved to curb lending by raising the proportion of deposits that banks must set aside as reserves to a record 17 percent starting June 15, an amount that rises to 17.5 percent from June 25. The benchmark one-year lending rate stands at 7.47 percent after six increases last year.
Merchants Bank rose 3.9 percent to 24.22 yuan, the biggest gain since May 14. The stock had lost 21 percent in the past seven days. China Vanke Co., the nation's largest listed property developer, added 3.4 percent to 10.60 yuan.
China Minsheng Banking Corp., the nation's first privately owned bank, gained 2 percent to 6.06 yuan. Sinopec, Asia's biggest oil refiner, climbed 6.7 percent to 11.89 yuan, the most since May 21. Sinopec shares slumped 16 percent last week.
China needs to take measures to avoid ``sharp fluctuations'' in its capital markets and a possible ``negative impact'' on its economy, the China Securities Journal said, citing a report by the People's Bank of China.