Selling in Shanghai and Shenzhen A shares, which trade on those two mainland China exchanges with limits on overseas ownership, drove prices on those two exchanges lower today with the Shanghai Composite down 7.72% and Shenzhen A shares down 8.41% at the close. This was the first day of trading on those markets since they closed on January 23 for the New Year’s holiday.
Significantly, the selling didn’t spread to other Asia markets that had reopened before today. In Hong Kong, for example, the Hang Seng index actually climbed 0.17%. Hong Kong markets reopened last Wednesday. Export-driven Asia economies did show lower prices–but no big drops. In Tokyo the Nikkei 225 index was down 1.10%. Korea’s KOSPI inched 0.01% lower. Taiwan as down 1.33% and Thailand was off 1.21%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) was ahead 1.14% as of 3 p.m. in New York.
U.S. markets were solidly higher with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index up 0.90% as of 3 p.m. New York time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.71%; the NASDAQ Composite gained 1.38%; and the small cap Russell 2000 rose 1.21%.
The one market that seems to be most worried about a drop in growth for the global economy is oil. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 2.93% to just above $50 a barrel at $51.05. The international benchmark Brent dropped 3.97% to $54.37 a barrel.
I think this pessimism in the oil market is something to watch since is it a sentiment so out of step with the rally in U.S. stocks today. Oil prices are saying that global growth is in danger of disappointing. U.S. equity prices are arguing that U.S. growth will NOT be affected by the coronavirus pandemic or by lower economic growth in China.
It’s unlikely that both are right.