China Capital Markets Research

On May 6th, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) changed its policy for investors in the interbank bond market. These modified regulations will open up the market to new types of investors including asset managers, housing provident funds, pension funds and charities.

Friday, May 20th was the first day when foreign commercial banks were allowed to trade yuan on the recently opened inter-bank forex market. The first batch of the banks will be able to trade both spot RMB and derivatives.

Last week in China, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) prohibited listed companies from raising capital earmarked for investment in the following four industries: Internet Finance, Video Games, Film and TV, and Virtual Reality. The new prohibition is an attempt to steer money into the real economy, which is defined as industries producing tangible products and services. Permissions for mergers, acquisitions, and refinancing in those ‘unreal industries’ have been halted, as well.

China plans some new rules for the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor program to further facilitate the cross-border investment and help the fundraising environment.

It will come as no surprise to the avid watchers of the Chinese stock market that China’s start to 2016 has not been a success by any means. The CSI 300 index of blue chip stocks plummeted by 5% on Thursday 7th January, prompting the newly implemented circuit breakers to kick in and suspend trading for 15 minutes in order to remediate market volatility.

The RMB-USD exchange rate has two different values: the onshore value, determined by the PBOC at markets opening, and the offshore value, which is market-driven and used in Hong Kong. These two rates were usually almost identical, until August 2015 when a surprise depreciation by the Chinese central bank caused an even deeper depreciation in the offshore value, with the spread between the two starting to become significant, especially towards the end of the year when the yuan continued to lose value in comparison to the US dollar.

When the Shanghai Stock Market first opened after the New Year’s holiday, everything quickly turned for the worst: a fast, large rout emerged, with the CSI300 Index losing 5 percentage points by 1 am. Then it stopped for 15 minutes, as trades were paused. After the break ended, the index kept going down, down in fact 7% on the previous trading day in just two minutes. At this point negotiations stopped again, but this time for the rest of the day.

Shanghai police have arrested 2 executives from a HK-owned High Frequency Trading (HFT) fund for irregular futures trading. This is actually the first public arrest of a non-mainland fund since the crackdown of HFT started a few weeks ago. According to the authorities, the case is still under investigation and two foreign nationals are involved in the case.

As in anything in the financial industry, there are winners and losers, although you could not be faulted for seeing more of the latter recently in China than the former. The market was up last week slightly, as it seems to be starting to shaking off the downward trend. It may not matter though, as there has been serious damage done.

The booming A-share market in China has attracted a lot of attention and capital over the past few months. Yet, the past few weeks have not been pretty as the market has fallen by over 40%. The government is pulling out all the stops to stop the decline.

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