Traders Puzzle Over Flurry of Block Trades in Big Chinese Banks

(Bloomberg) -- Traders are puzzling over a flurry of block trades in big Chinese banks within 24 hours.

The transactions were in Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. on Friday morning and in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp., and BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Ltd. -- a unit of Bank of China Ltd. -- on Thursday.

All together, almost $370 million of shares changed hands in Hong Kong at discounts of as much as 5.5 percent on the stocks’ previous closing prices.

“It’s quite unusual to see such a big amount,” said Steven Leung, executive director at Uob Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd., adding that it was usually unnecessary to sell such liquid stocks at a discount.

Block trades are privately negotiated transactions that are often used when investors want to buy or sell positions that are so large that they would affect market prices if done through a series of trades.

Leung speculated that the trades could be positive for the companies’ share prices, since investors who bought at discounts might hold for extended periods.

The banks all fell on Friday as Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index retreated.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.