Business World

Saturday 3 December 2016

China's main markets stop trading for first time after shares slump

Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney

Published 04/01/2016 | 07:12

Investor look at an electronic board displaying share prices at a securities exchange house in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. China's stocks headed for the steepest weekly loss this month in shrinking turnover amid growing concern government measures to support the world's second-largest equity market and economy are failing. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Investor look at an electronic board displaying share prices at a securities exchange house in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. China's stocks headed for the steepest weekly loss this month in shrinking turnover amid growing concern government measures to support the world's second-largest equity market and economy are failing. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Chinese stock markets tumbled 7pc in their opening session of 2016 on Monday as weak factory activity surveys and falls in the yuan added to concerns about the struggling economy, forcing exchanges to suspend trade for the first time.

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Early losses quickly snowballed in the afternoon, with trading suspended around 0530 GMT (12.30 am ET), about 90 minutes before the regular close.

Selling intensified after a brief 15-minute trading halt early in the afternoon when main indexes had shed 5 percent, and activity in Shanghai and Shenzhen was halted for the day soon after.

The trading halt was China's first-ever use of circuit breakers, a kind of emergency brake, on main exchanges.

The blue-chip CSI300 index ended down 7pc at 3,470.41 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 6.9pc to 3,296.66.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was pulled down 3pc in response.

A private survey early in the day showed China's factory activity contracted for the 10th straight month in December, and at a sharper pace than in November.

An official survey on Friday, which focuses on larger, state-owned firms, showed a fifth month of contraction, though a pick-up in the services sector could cushion the impact on the broader economy.

Investors also dumped stocks ahead of the imminent expiration of a share sales ban on listed companies' major shareholders, which had been imposed during the market crash last summer.

"The slump apparently triggered intensified selling, while the triggering of the circuit breaker seems to have heightened panic, as liquidity was suddenly gone and this is something no one has experienced before," said Gu Yongtao, strategist at Cinda Securities

"It was a stampede.”

Reuters

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