Safe-haven demand lifts stocks, yuan

2020-03-03 08:16:04China Daily Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

Turnover exceeds $143 billion for ninth straight trading day; key indexes up 3%

Stock prices surged on bourses in the Chinese mainland on Monday, with A shares and broader Chinese assets like the yuan in demand as safe-haven assets, given China's relative success in containing the novel coronavirus outbreak amid increasing uncertainties in other parts of the world, analysts said.

Chinese stocks were among the bright spots as Asian stocks rebounded from the past week's panic selling due to the sharp rise in confirmed infections outside of China.

The benchmark Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchange indexes rallied by more than 3 percent, with turnover exceeding 1 trillion yuan ($143 billion) for the ninth consecutive trading day. More than 200 stocks jumped by the 10-percent daily trading limit.

Shenzhen's technology-focused startup board ChiNext outperformed other markets and surprised many analysts by rising nearly 19 percent in less than a month. Investors are bullish on technology stocks, seeing them as unconventional risk-hedging assets, as they believe earnings of companies in traditional industries are expected to be hit heavily by the epidemic.

"The fight against the coronavirus has achieved remarkable progress within China. This boosted the confidence of the stock market," said Chen Jiahe, chief investment officer at investment firm Novem Arcae Technologies.

"There has also been a chase after technology stocks … which pushed the valuations of some technology stocks to a record high," Chen said. But he also warned about possible bubble risks in technology stocks as some have appeared to be too expensive with price-to-earning ratios exceeding 100 times.

While global financial markets have been rattled by fears of the rapid spread of the outbreak outside China, the A-share market has shown a stronger-than-expected performance. Some analysts said it is related to the liquidity effect as policymakers have been easing monetary policy to shore up the economy hit by the epidemic.

China's unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the virus and the subsequent proactive economic policies to stabilize growth and cushion the negative impact on people's lives, have also boosted the attractiveness of Chinese stocks and assets amid the increasing uncertainties in other markets.

The net inflow of overseas capital into the A-share market exceeded 4.1 billion yuan on Monday, ending a six-day streak of net outflows.

"Despite increased uncertainties in developed markets, there are encouraging signs that China is succeeding in containing the outbreak," Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a research note.

"We prefer emerging market equities, given China's relative success in containing the virus, and are more cautious on eurozone stocks, where there is now significant uncertainty over the potential economic impact of the outbreak," he said.

While the outbreak has brought sudden disruption to China's economic activities, it has not hampered the country's effort to push capital market reforms, which also helped boost investor sentiment.

The revised Securities Law became officially effective on Sunday as scheduled. The law provides the legal basis for China to accelerate the market reform of the initial public offering system, which is hailed by many as a positive development that will make the Chinese capital market more mature, transparent and market-based.

Also on Monday, the Chinese currency jumped to a near three-week high against the US dollar. China's government bonds have also been officially included in JPMorgan's widely tracked benchmark emerging-market bond indexes.

"This showed the acknowledgment of international institutions of the Chinese economy and its currency. The inclusion is expected to bring in additional capital and it will also benefit the Chinese currency," said Liu Min, an analyst at FXTM, an online foreign exchange trading platform.


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