China Stock Traders Finally Get Some Relief, But Watch the Yuan

(Bloomberg) -- A meltdown in U.S. technology stocks was the last thing Hong Kong needed after a hellish start to October, kicking Tencent Holdings Ltd. when it was down. The selling was so widespread that it spilled to the mainland even though Shanghai’s index barely has any tech.

While the tension eased for stocks on Friday, there was no break for FX traders watching the yuan weaken beyond 6.9 per dollar yet again. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been talking about in China markets this week.

Tencent nosedives

Traders’ obsession with this stock’s downfall only increased when Tencent failed to hold above HK$300 on Oct. 8. It was a massive level, triggering even more selling. The Chinese Internet giant then reached a slew of milestones: a record 10-day losing streak, an unprecedented $252 billion loss of value since January and the longest downtrend since its 2004 IPO. While it was the world’s 5th-largest company only a few months ago, Tencent’s no longer among the top 10.

As one shareholder put it: Tencent represents everything investors want to avoid right now.

Taiwan, Asia’s tech proxy, was also hit hard. The Taiex’s 6.3 percent slump on Thursday was the biggest for any benchmark in the world.

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Mainland reopens

China’s onshore markets had a lot of catching up to do after their five-day break last week. Monday’s open was bad (as expected) but Thursday was especially grim. More than 1,000 stocks fell by the daily limit, or about one in four, and the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index set a new four-year intraday low. This means even if you bought the index at its post-crash trough in 2016, you are now officially losing money. Foreigners don’t seem too keen to pick up the tab either.

Friday’s large-cap rebound wasn’t exactly convincing: the FTSE China A50 Index still had one of its worst weeks since the 2015 bubble burst.

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Don’t forget the yuan

The yuan is trading around the 6.9 per dollar level onshore after the central bank weakened the fixing for a ninth session. Traders are increasingly betting on the currency breaking 7, something that hasn’t happened since the global financial crisis, as China continues to loosen policy to protect its economy (putting that deleveraging drive on hold for now). Some on Wall Street are predicting we’ll see it weaken to that level within six months.

On your radar next week will be the Trump administration’s report on foreign currencies. While the U.S. Treasury Department has advised Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China isn’t manipulating the yuan, the President has repeatedly accused China of doing so.

Chart of the week

Shenzhen’s benchmark index turned back the clock to hit its worst week since early 2016, one of many notes of misery struck on a bleak Thursday for China’s markets.

China Stock Traders Finally Get Some Relief, But Watch the Yuan



Catching up

Here’s what else caught our eye.

  • BMW’s control grab sends Hong Kong auto stock down 30 percent.
  • IPO hopefuls are putting their plans on hold.
  • China’s 400 million pigs may have to eat less protein.
  • Banking gets even more high-tech.
  • There’s a new lithium superpower.
  • Tesla Inc.’s is hunting for land in Shanghai.
  • A Hong Kong billionaire wants to revamp Goldman’s London HQ.

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