China shares resume with modest losses, yuan firms despite trade slump

Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:36am EST
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By Nathaniel Taplin and Samuel Shen

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese shares ended only modestly lower on Monday as trade resumed after a long holiday, largely shrugging off last week's tumble on global markets, while Beijing took another swipe at currency devaluation talk with a strong fix for the yuan.

Both the CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen and the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC ended down 0.6 percent after their first day of trade since Feb. 5.

The losses were unexpectedly light, given Japan's Nikkei .N225 alone sank 11 percent last week, though the Chinese indexes have had a more brutal 2016, losing about 22 percent and 12 trillion yuan ($1.84 trillion) in market value so far.

The bourses initially opened down more than 2 percent, but a strong rally elsewhere in Asia, especially Japan, and a rise in the yuan lured investors back to the market.

"Many traders exited their positions ahead of the holiday, and the weak opening gave them a chance to buy back some shares," said David Dai, Shanghai-based investor director at Nanhai Fund Management Co.

"Previously, there was strong yuan depreciation fears. Now, the currency has strengthened, and that is also a market-stabilizing factor," he added.

Brokerage Industrial Securities said in a report that Chinese shares could even post a modest rebound in February as currency fears dissipated, which would in turn ease pressure on capital outflows and give the People's Bank of China (PBOC) more room for monetary stimulus.

The PBOC fixed the yuan at its highest rate in over a month as it continued efforts to stem devaluation speculation CNY=SAEC.   Continued...

An investor looks at an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/China Daily