World Markets

Top banks: Here's how to ride the China rollercoaster


As China's turbulent equity market staged a surprise turnaround on Thursday, many questions remain over the fate of mainland stocks and the outlook for the economy more broadly.

In a sharp reversal, the Shanghai Composite rebounded 5.8 percent – its biggest one-day percentage gain since 2009 - to close at 3,709 points on Thursday after yet another round of measures were announced by Chinese authorities to reverse the downturn in the market. The benchmark index, however, remains 28 percent below its June 12 peak of 5,166.35.

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Late Wednesday, China's securities regulator banned major shareholders - those with stakes of more than 5 percent in a listed company - from selling their stocks for the next six months. Then on Thursday morning, the country's banking regulator said it would allow banks to roll over loans backed by stocks when they mature.

These measures are the latest response by the government to its tumbling equity market, which crashed into bear market territory on June 29. Since the end of June, Chinese authorities have unveiled market-boosting steps on a near-daily basis. But they have have so far failed to produce a lasting impact on investor sentiment.

With the outlook for China shares still hazy, we take a look at how top international banks are reading the latest market developments:

Deutsche Bank: Technical rebound ahead

"Chinese equity valuations have cheapened notably from recent highs…We see a possible technical rebound in Chinese equities, after which the market may be range-bound through the summer.

"Looking at 2H15, fundamentals may become the key share price driver. We see a more expansionary fiscal policy on the back of intensifying global uncertainties and deteriorating domestic economy. Our end-2015 target for HSCEI remains unchanged at 14,000."

- Yuliang Chang, strategist at Deutsche Bank

Note: The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) is an index that tracks the performance of China enterprises listed in Hong Kong in the form of H shares.

Credit Suisse: Trade with caution

"While we have generally suggested buying the dips, we must admit the dip - particularly in MSCI China - has been much deeper than expected. For investors with longer-term time horizons, we believe the dip offers a buying opportunity.

"But those with shorter-term time horizons may prefer to wait until we see foreign investor capitulation and a further unwinding of China's margin financing before catching the falling knife."

- Sakthi Siv, research analyst at Credit Suisse

Debate: Are Beijing's rescue measures working?

HSBC: A-shares raised to 'neutral' from 'underweight'

"We had lowered our view on the A-share market to underweight in April with the lowest index target on the Street due to the risk of high leverage and selling pressure from corporate insiders.

"Now we are raising the market back to neutral as we see value emerging in view of four factors 1) the balance of margin financing dropped over 22 percent, or RMB500bn from the peak in mid-June, and the worst of the deleveraging might be behind us; 2) A-share corporate insiders' net selling has dropped significantly in recent weeks; 3) the regulator has more options at its disposal to stabilize the market and restore confidence; and most importantly, 4) fundamentals could improve in 2H15, e.g. lower interest expenses could lead to higher margins and profits."

"We make no changes to our index targets for MSCI China, HSCEI, Red-Chips, and HSI, but we raise our [2015] target for SHCOMP to 4,000 from 3,400 and for CSI300 to 4,200 from 3,800."

- Roger Xie, strategist at HBSC

Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Watch out for collateral damage

"If the market continues to fall sharply, stock lending related losses could run into Rmb trillions, of which, banks and brokers may have to bear a meaningful share. These potential losses can be especially dangerous to brokers whose capital base is less than Rmb1tr.

"Even more important, the opaqueness of China's financial system and the lack of clear definition of risk responsibility mean that contagion risk is high, similar to the subprime crisis. We had always considered the risk of a financial crisis in China as high. What has happened in the stock market has likely increased the risks considerably and also brought forward the timeline by our assessment – the leverage is much higher now and economic growth rate, potentially lower."

- David Cui, strategist at Merrill Lynch

Goldman Sachs: Still overweight China

"We remain overweight China, favoring offshore H shares to onshore A shares given relative performance and valuation differentials. The investment case continues to rest on the key pillars of reform and liquidity.

"Looking forward, we expect the pace of reform to remain rapid, notably in the areas of financial markets, fiscal matters and SOEs. Key examples include the potential imminent announcement of the SZ-HK (Shenzhen-Hong Kong) Connect scheme and the exchange of further tranches of bank debt for municipal bonds which we believe will serve to mitigate credit concerns associated with local government financing vehicle debt.

"We also expect further policy ease/stimulus in the form of a policy rate cut and further reductions to bank reserve ratio requirements, as well as greater encouragement of infrastructure investment on the fiscal front."

- Timothy Moe, chief Asia Pacific equity strategist at Goldman Sachs

Note: The bank's view was published on July 1 and remains unchanged