China steps up efforts to calm investor jitters; markets rebound

Gains came after the securities regulator on Wednesday night held a meeting with executives of top global investment banks

  
A man wearing a protective mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a new coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China February 28, 2020.

A man wearing a protective mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a new coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China February 28, 2020.

REUTERS/Aly Song

HONG KONG/BEJING - China stepped up attempts to calm frayed investor nerves after a wild markets rout this week by telling foreign brokerages not to "overinterpret" its latest regulatory actions, setting the stage for a rebound in beaten-down stock on Thursday.

Chinese state media also joined in to say yuan-denominated assets in the country remained attractive and that short-term market panic did not represent long-term value.

By midday, China's blue-chip CSI300 Index gained 1.4% but was still down over 5% so for the week. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1%, reducing the week's loss to 4.3%.

Shenzhen's start-up board ChiNext jumped 4.1%, recouping much of this week's savage losses.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index jumped 2.7%, and the Hang Seng Tech Index, the target of heavy selling earlier in the week, soared 6.8%, but is still down 5.3% for the week.

The gains came after the securities regulator on Wednesday night held a meeting with executives of top global investment banks with an aim to calm financial markets nerves, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The meeting added to official efforts to shore up investor confidence, which has been dented by Beijing's sweeping regulatory actions that hit firms in the $120 billion private tutoring sector and technology behemoths.

"This is more to calm the market to isolate the education industry and not to overinterpret it," said one of the people, who has knowledge of the meeting held by China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) vice chairman Fang Xinghai.

At the meeting, Fang told the bankers that official policies would be rolled out more steadily in the country to avoid sharp volatility in the global markets, said another person.

Executives from investment banks Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and UBS, among others, attended the meeting, said the people, who declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The regulator only invited those foreign brokerages with existing licenses to operate in the country, said a separate person with knowledge of the meeting.

CSRC and Credit Suisse did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment. Representatives at Goldman, JPMorgan, and UBS declined to comment. Bloomberg first reported the development on Wednesday.

The meeting followed a brutal sell-off in shares of Chinese companies this week after investors were spooked by Beijing's rules that ban for-profit tutoring in core school subjects.

The new rules for the private education companies closely followed China's antimonopoly campaign against technology giants and new regulations for home-grown companies looking to list overseas.

Beijing, however, has stepped up efforts to soothe investor nerves over the last couple of days amid concerns that a sharp sell-off in equities could have a spillover effect to other asset classes, including bonds and foreign exchange.

The state-backed China Daily said Beijing remained supportive of domestic companies seeking to list overseas and that regulators would soon unveil more measures to further open capital market to foreign entities.

(Reporting by Binbin Huang, Cheng Leng, Samuel Shen, Scott Murdoch; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Sam Holmes) ((Scott.Murdoch@thomsonreuters.com;))


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