The worst-ever start to a year for Chinese shares triggered a trading halt in more than $7 trillion of equities, futures and options, putting the nation’s new market circuit breakers to the test on their first day.
Trading was halted at about 1:34 p.m. local time on Monday after the CSI 300 Index dropped 7 percent. An earlier 15-minute suspension at the 5 percent level failed to stop the retreat, with shares extending losses as soon as the market re-opened. Traders said the halts took effect as anticipated without any major technical problems.
The world’s second-largest stock market began the year on a down note after data showed manufacturing contracted for a fifth straight month and investors speculated that the end of a ban on share sales by major stakeholders may come as soon as this week.
Chinese policy makers, who went to unprecedented lengths to prop up stock prices during a summer rout, are trying to prevent financial-market volatility from weighing on economy set to grow at its weakest annual pace since 1990.
“This is a pretty dramatic start of trading for the year,” said Khiem Do, the Hong Kong-based head of multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management, which manages about $45 billion. “Some investors may have been unwinding their positions when trading volumes were light. That could have exaggerated the moves. The market has been very difficult to predict.”
Monday’s selloff rippled through regional equity markets, with Asian shares and U.S. equity-index futures extending losses. Chinese stocks’ influence on global markets has increased after the nation’s $5 trillion equity market rout, when the Shanghai gauge tumbled more than 40 percent from mid-June through its August low, rattled investor confidence in the world’s second-largest economy.
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