After two days of disappointing macro data out of China, with trade numbers missing expectations on Tuesday following by another drop and miss in producer prices overnight, the "great decoupling" between China stocks and both the S&P500 as well as the rest of the world continued, and the Shanghai Composite dropped another 0.9% to 3,052 to the lowest level since mid-October. Gauges of industrial, utilities and materials shares fell the most on CSI 300 Index, while the ChiNext small-cap gauge droped 0.9%, while the divergence with offshore Chinese stocks continued: MSCI China +0.8%, set for highest close since July 2015. In short: it's Chinese stocks against the rest of the world.
Furthermore, it's not just stocks as China's bond sell-off continued amid deleveraging concerns, leading China to sell five-year government debt at the highest cost since 2014.
To be sure, there have been various explanations for this ongoing decoupling, many of which were noted here previously, and most have to do with either China's shadow bank crackdown, the ongoing monetary tightening by the PBOC, the recent plunge in commodity prices leading to accelerating margin calls and asset liquidations, and in general concerns about China's record debt load.
Below we present yet another take, this time from Kyoungwha Kim, a reporter and markets blogger who writes for Bloomberg, who is of the view that "China’s Deleveraging Dominates Positive Fundamentals"
It’s likely the government’s drive to enforce financial deleveraging will outweigh all the positives which otherwise might have prompted a rebound in China’s equity market.
The Shanghai Composite has lost 1.2% in 2017 versus a 15% advance in the MSCI EM Index
So far there’s no sign of relaxation in its drive to quell financial leverage. China’s insurance watchdog is looking into insurers’ major investments in stocks and property, while the securities regulator is said to be conducting a nationwide scrutiny on brokerages’ malpractice.
China’s economy and earnings remain strong despite signs of moderation. Industrial companies’ profits jumped 24% in March from a year ago, extending a surge from the first two months of 2017.
Speculation about massive infrastructure projects has returned. President Xi Jinping, who proposed the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in 2013 to spur greater global economic integration, convenes a summit in Beijing next week, hosting 28 heads of state including Vladimir Putin. This plan, estimated by Credit Suisse to fuel investments worth as much as $502 billion into 62 countries over five years, is reviving speculation that SOEs will benefit.
Hopes for MSCI inclusion in June are still alive, after the number of mainland companies for inclusion was cut to 169 from 448. A positive decision would provide some fuel to a market suffering from a liquidity drought.
The positives may serve as a stabilizer to keeping the SHCOMP from breaking below 3,000, but they won’t be enough to catch up with the EM rally -- unless the government alters its stance.