Overnight we highlighted that despite a massive weekly net liquidity injection by the PBOC (which ended on Friday when the PBOC drained a net 10bn in liquidity) Chinese stocks failed to hold on to Thursday's gains, and resumed their slump...
... headed for their worst week in 7 months.
However, it was more than the simply a question of liquidity flows, because it once again appears that Beijing is involved in micromanaging daily stock moves, only unlike the summer of 2015 when China blew a huge stock bubble in a few months, which then promptly burst leaving China scrambling for the next year to figure out how to avoid contagion, this time Xinhua had a different message: sell.
According to Bloomberg, the reason why Chinese stocks - led by Shenzhen shares - slumped on Friday, is due to a warning by state media that one of the nation’s hottest stocks was climbing too fast, which in turn triggered a selloff. And while the SHCOMP closed down 0.5%, the Shenzhen Composite Index closed down more than 2%, with liquor makers and technology companies that had outperformed this year among the biggest losers.
The catalyst that sparked the selloff? China's biggest liquor maker, Kweichow Moutai, which plunged 3.9% - after tumbling as much as 5.8%, its largest decline since August 2015 - after Xinhua News Agency said its China’s biggest "should rise at a slower pace." Other liquor makers fell in sympathy, Wuliangye Yibin slid as much as 5.3% in Shenzhen, the most since July 2016, and Luzhou Laojiao fell 4.7%, although the stocks, which have more than doubled this year, pared their losses by the close.
In commentary published in the state-owned newspaper, the author said "short-term speculation in Kweichow Moutai shares will hurt value investing and long-term investment will deliver best returns."
The bizarre and unusual critique - traditionally China's media mouthpieces have only urged stocks to go higher, never lower - capped a week that saw a rout in Chinese sovereign bonds spill into the equity market amid concern about a government deleveraging campaign and faster inflation. For the week, the Shenzhen gauge fell 4.2%, its worst loss since May 2016. The Shanghai benchmark declined 1.5 per cent.
“The Xinhua warning was the last straw,” said Ken Chen, a Shanghai-based analyst with KGI Securities Co. “Expectations of worsening liquidity conditions are also hurting stocks.”
In retrospect, perhaps the Xinhua warning was not so strange: after China's debt-fueled stock market bubble burst in 2015, wiping out $5 trillion of value, Chinese policy makers have acted to restrain excessive speculation in equities.
“Xinhua is concerned that a runaway rally in a heavyweight like Kweichow will hamper the stability of the overall market,” said Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International Holding Co in Hong Kong.
And while one can wonder why China is suddenly so concerned about even the hint of potential vol spike in the stock market - suggesting that even a modest selloff could have dramatic consequences for the Chinese financial sector - it is certainly strange that whereas even China is acting to restrain the euphoria of its citizens over fears of what happens during the next bubble, in other "developed" countries, the local central bankers, politicians and TV pundits have no problem in forcing retail investors to go all risk assets when the market is at all time highs.
As for China, it will have truly gone a full "180", if in a few months time instead of arresting sellers as it did in the summer of 2015, Beijing throw stock buyers in prison next.