Thursday, April 24, 2014

China Shares End Down, Investors Shrug Off Privatization Comments

SHANGHAI--China's shares ended lower Thursday as investors shrugged off the latest comments by the State Council about allowing more private investment in infrastructure projects.

Investors remained concerned about the slowing economy and a possibly share supply glut, analysts said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both A and B shares, ended down 0.5%, or 10.35 points, at 2057.03. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 0.7%, or 7.62 points to 1057.31.

In a State Council meeting Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said China is allowing private investment into 80 projects including those in the infrastructure, clean energy, IT, oil and gas and petrochemical sectors, but some analysts said the government needs to do more.

"These measures to open up sectors monopolized by state-owned enterprises to private capital are one step in the right direction and should help productivity growth, but we do not think these measures are sufficient to turn around the downtrend in the economy," said Zhiwei Zhang, an economist from Nomura.

Heavyweight oil companies were down. PetroChina fell 0.1% to CNY7.59 and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, declined 0.6% to CNY5.19.

Metal producers were also lower. Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi Tech fell 1.4% to CNY19.33 and Aluminum Corp of China declined 0.3% to CNY3.25.

Bucking the trend, some property developers rose, after local authorities in Wuxi, a city in coastal Jiangsu Province, announced fine-tuning measures on real estate curbs, allowing out-of-towners to qualify for household registration by purchasing a 60 square-meter apartment, down from a previous 70 square meter requirement.

China Vanke, the nation's largest property developer by revenue, gained 2.4% to CNY7.99 and Poly Real Estate Group rose 2.7% to CNY7.89.

But analysts cautioned about being overly exuberant over Wuxi's move.

"[Property] sector pressures remain despite enhanced sentiment fueled by expectations of policy easing," said property analysts at Jefferies. "In view of high home prices in various cities, policy relaxation is unlikely to take place in the near term, especially in Tier 1 and 2 cities, although there have been indications some cities are doing studies to help the weakening markets."

Write to Esther Fung at

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