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China's Stocks Sink to Lowest Level Seen in $5 Trillion Crash

Richard Frost
Still appealing. Source: STR/AFP

China’s sinking stock market reached an unwelcome milestone, with the Shanghai Composite Index closing at the lowest level since 2014, before a stock boom that turned into a $5 trillion bust.

The Shanghai gauge dropped 1.1 percent to 2,651.79 at the close, below its January 2016 closing low. Back then, officials had just introduced and then hastily scrapped a disastrous circuit-breaker program as they grappled with one of the market’s worst-ever routs.

While it’s been a slower burn this time round, the steady losses show that sentiment toward Chinese equities hasn’t recovered from the 2015-2016 crash. Turnover is dwindling and some companies are finding themselves cut off from equity financing, forcing them to raise more debt. The benchmark index is heading for a fourth quarter of losses, its longest string of declines since 2008.

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The malaise in Chinese equities contrasts with gains for global stocks. The MSCI All-Country World Index is up 21 percent since Nov. 27, 2014, while the S&P 500 Index has handed investors a 40 percent rally.

Trade tensions with the U.S. are exacerbating investor concern. With President Donald Trump telling aides to proceed with additional tariffs on Chinese products, the Chinese government is considering declining an offer of talks, according to a Wall Street Journal report, which cited officials with knowledge of the discussions.

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A weaker yuan also makes the nation’s shares less appealing. China’s currency has fallen almost 7 percent since the end of March amid speculation the government was trying to counter the impact of U.S. tariffs.

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