Looks like the bulls are back in the China shop, pushing stocks up for the first quarter of the year on the back of stronger economic data and better-than-expected corporate earnings.
The benchmark MSCI China Index gained 13 percent in the first three months of 2017, while the Shanghai Composite added 3.8 percent. Over the last year, mainland-traded stocks have posted a pretty steady ascent — markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen have added 7 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.
"This past quarter was a great one for China stocks," said Larry Hu, China economist at Macquarie, attributing the rise to solid earnings growth, a strengthening property market and a stable yuan.
It's a sign that perhaps confidence is returning to China, the world's second-largest economy. For years, the fear had been that the country's growth would implode in a "hard landing," disrupting the global economy.
"There's been this cyclical recovery — China's in an easing mode … It shows up in the economic numbers, and it shows up in many company earnings reports," said Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at Krane Funds Advisors. It's a "stealth bull market."
China restricts international investment on its domestic stock markets, but foreign investors can seek exposure by trading Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong or New York. They can also buy through special programs set up by the Chinese government to boost investment flows between the mainland and the rest of the world.