Chinese stocks are burning up the track–and that has led the way to a shift toward “risk on” assets across global markts.
Today alone the Shanghai Composite Index was up 5.71% as of noon New York Time. This continued as streak that has seen the CSI 300 Index gain 14% in five days. (The index is now up 14% in 2020 and trades at a five-year high.) That’s the biggest move since December 2014. Leading the way are shares of Chinese brokerage companies. Daily trading volume exceeded 1.5 trillion yuan ($213 billion) for the first time since 2015 as retail investors rushed to get into the market.
Among the drives for this rapid surge are low interest rates and first-time-ever losses on wealth management products that have left savers in China without an alternative to stocks if they’re looking to make anything on their money, In addition, China’s state-run media have been flacking the bull market in stocks. For example, a front-page editorial in the China Securities Journal on Monday said that fostering a “healthy” bull market after the pandemic is now more important to the economy than ever. Chinese social media exploded with searches for the term “open a stock account.”
The 2014 advance turned into a boom-and-then-bust market in 2014 and 2015. Arguments for “this time it’s different” that I’ve heard is that while traders are taking on debt now to buy shares, leverage in the stock market is about half of that it was at its peak in 2015. The People’s Bank of China hasn’t flooded the market with cash this time. The bank withdrew funds from the financial system for a seventh straight day on Monday.
What we’re seeing, in my opinion, is a big increase in traders’ willingness to take on risk–in China and in other global markets. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 1.44% as of noon New York time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 1.47% and the NASDAQ Composite was higher by 2.46%. The Russell 2000 small cap index had gained 1.00%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) had climbed by 2.46%.
(The S&P 500 close up 1.59% and the Dow closed 1.78% higher. The NSDAQ Composite finished up 2.21% and the Russell 2000 finished ahead 0.77%. The EEM insiehd up 4.30%.)
In another indication of “risk-on” thinking Semiconductor Manufacturing International is set to hold mainland China’s biggest stock sale with a $7.5 offer. That’s twice as big an offer as had been predicted by analysts.
The risk on rally is also being fueled by hedge funds and other quantitative investors who are buying stock to cover short positions betting that Chinese stocks would fall.
The rally in Chinese stocks is also being helped, in my opinion, by sentiment and evidence that China has been far more successful in containing the coronavirus pandemic than the United States has. That means that many traders see China’s economy closer to revery than the economy of the United States.
I’m inclined to let my China positions ride for at least the rest of this week. The contrast between the U.S. economy and China is likely to get even stronger over the next few weeks as we go into second quarter earnings season. For example, in my Perfect 5 ETF Portfolio the iShares China Large cap ETF (FXI) was up another 9.50% as of the close today for a gain of 19.19% since my April 20, 2020 pick. Meituan Dianping (MPNGF) in my Volatility Portfolio is up 92.44% (and 6.42% as of the close today) since my April 20, 2020 pick. I’m holding both of those positions for now.