China’s Breakneck Stock Rally Is About to Slow, Say Analysts

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(Bloomberg) — The breakneck pace of China’s equity rally will decelerate in the coming months, according to strategists who are forecasting the kind of slow bull market that would likely be well-received in Beijing.

The Shanghai Composite Index will climb to 3,200 — or 3.2 percent from Thursday’s close — by the end of June, according to 21 analysts and fund managers surveyed by Bloomberg this month. That compares to the 24 percent surge since the start of the year.

Analysts were cautiously optimistic at the close of 2018, and this year’s bull market in major gauges has exceeded expectations. With the rally since October adding more than $2 trillion in value, China’s world-beating stocks put authorities on the alert to prevent a repeat of the 2015 crash. They’ve warned on gray-market leverage and speculative trades while relaxing trading rules, treading a careful line to create a more benign environment for companies to get much-needed financing from the stock market.

“Equity financing is a national strategy and a top priority for the stock market,” said Shi Wenbien, an analyst with Yuanta Securities Co., adding that China wants to lift the weight of equity financing in its total social financing. “The stock market should be the engine for the economy.”

Still, predictions for stocks on an annual basis are pretty optimistic: the median forecast of 19 survey participants sees the Shanghai benchmark rising to 3,500 by year end, which implies a gain of 40 percent from 2018, when the index posted its worst performance in a decade.

Most analysts said stocks will be supported by China’s stimulus policies, including tax cuts, an easier liquidity environment and potential inflows after A shares’ inclusion by foreign index compilers. To be sure, analysts haven’t always made the right call, after failing to predict last year’s slide.

Economic fundamentals and corporate earnings will also need to catch up to put stocks on a more solid footing, survey respondents said, as some of the positives may have been priced in.

It’s a different story for Hong Kong, even though China-domiciled companies account for nearly half the weighting of the Hang Seng Index. The gauge is seen rising 3.2 percent to 30,000 points by end-June, before giving up 500 points by year-end, according to the median forecast of 10 analysts. While Hong Kong is influenced by China’s economic fundamentals, it’s more closely correlated with U.S. stocks.

Other key findings from the survey that took place March 15-19:

The survey participants that provided index targets include: Bright Smart Securities & Commodities Group Ltd., Guodu Securities Co., HFT Investment Management Co., Shanghai RiverEast Asset Management Advisory Ltd., First Seafront Fund Management Co., XuFunds Investment Management Co., Hengsheng Asset Management Co., Alphalex Capital Management (HK) Ltd., Everbright Sun Hung Kai Co., Capital Corise Asset Management Co., PGC Capital, Zhongrong Fund Management Co., Shenzhen Spruces Capital Management Co., China Minsheng Trust Co., Beijing Chengyang AMC Ltd., First Shanghai Securities Ltd., KGI Securities Co., Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co., Capital Securities Corp., Cathay Securities Investment Trust Co., Zhongtai Securities Co.


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