China Stock Markets Crash Again, Some Media Firms Spared

Shanghai skyline
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A handful of media stocks were spared as Chinese share markets crashed by more than 8% on Monday. That is their biggest one day fall since 2007.

The abrupt drop, during the afternoon trading session on the Shanghai stock exchange, appears to signal worried investor sentiment, despite the past month of massive government efforts to prop up the equity markets.

Traders said that there was no specific news that triggered the sell-off, and said that the government organized rally had been too quick and too steep to be sustainable.

(Industrial profitability figures were down by 0.3%, according to new data. But that did not particularly rock the Monday morning session and indexes were down by some 2.5%.)

The day ended with the SCI300 index of 300 leading Shanghai and Shenzhen stocks off by 8.6% at 3,818.73 points and the SSECI (Shanghai Composite) down 8.5% at 8 3,725.56.

Some 2,247 listed companies saw their shares fall on Monday, with only 77 advancing. Two media counters were among them, with Beijing Enlight Media up 3.38% at RMB29.95. Hunan TV was up 0.14% at RMB42.89.

But others were more in line with the markets’ general descent. Huayi Brothers Media was down 10% on Monday at RMB39.58; Wanda Cinema Line were off by 6.7% at RMB211.60; Zhejiang Huace was off 6.4% at RMB32.46.

The Chinese stock markets have been a roller coaster ride for many investors. A huge rally began in October last year and propelled the market upwards by over 150%.

Late June saw a brutal 30% correction, which sparked panic and the suspension of trading in most Chinese shares. That caused the Chinese government to loosen liquidity, cajole some companies into buying back their shares, and cancel many IPOs. It even announced a target, for the indexes to reach 4,500 before support measures would be withdrawn.

Amazingly, Monday’s crash still leaves the mainland markets up over the past three weeks. Since the markets’ recent low on July 8, they had climbed by 18% till Friday (July 24).

Foreign commentators had been highly critical of the Chinese government actions. Many called them unwarranted intervention which revealed Chinese equity markets to be driven by state policy and investors’ interpretations of those policies, rather than by economic and corporate fundamentals. The International Monetary Fund is understood to have called on the government to unwind its recent measures.

Chinese financial news site Caixin Media Monday reported that 36 year old fund manager Liu Qiang committed suicide late last week (July 22). He was reportedly angry with at the way that China’s government had handled the markets and penned a series of critiques on a blog before jumping to his death from a high rise building in Beijing.

“‘The government manufactured a bull market and [then] destroyed it with poor intervention,’ Liu wrote, referring in particular to temporary restrictions imposed on short selling stock index futures,” Caixin reported.

The mainland slide had an immediate impact on the Hong Kong stock market. The Hang Seng Index slipped by 3.09% to finish Monday trading at 24,351.96. Hong Kong-listed Alibaba Pictures Group crumpled by 10.8% to HK$2.15 per share.

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