China's government has decided to abandon attempts to boost the stock market through large-scale share purchases, and will instead intensify efforts to find and punish those suspected of "destabilising the market", according to senior officials.
For two months, a "national team" of state-owned investment funds and institutions has collectively spent about $200 billion trying to prop up a market that is still down 37 per cent since its mid-June peak.
China's leaders feel they mishandled the stock market rescue efforts by allowing too much information to become public, according to senior regulatory officials speaking at a meeting late on Thursday — an account of which has been seen by the Financial Times.
Last week's equities collapse, which prompted a rout in global markets, was partly blamed on authorities' apparent decision to refrain from the share purchases they had been making since early July.
After standing on the sidelines for more than a week, the government resumed large-scale stock-buying in the last hour of trade on Thursday. This helped to lift the Shanghai benchmark index from a small loss to end the day up more than 5 per cent. The market rose by almost 5 per cent again on Friday.
Traders and officials said the latest intervention was aimed at providing a "positive market environment" in preparation for a big military parade this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the "victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression".
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Senior financial regulatory officials insist that this was an anomaly, and that the government will refrain from further large-scale buying of equities.