As China’s two stock exchanges continued their nosedive, brokerages and companies planning initial public offerings have taken steps to help restore market confidence.
As part of a government-endorsed plan, 21 big brokerage firms have agreed to set up a fund worth at least 120 billion renminbi, or $19.4 billion, to buy shares in the largest, most stable companies, and to stop selling shares from their own portfolios.
Additionally, the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges on Saturday issued suspension notices for 28 IPOs that had previously been approved for flotation.
The Shanghai and Shenzhen indices fell 5.8% and 5.4% respectively on Friday, capping their worst three-week decline in more than 20 years. Almost $3 trillion in market value — more than the entire economic output of Brazil — has been wiped out since markets went into reverse last month, Reuters reports.
“Excessively rapid rises and falls in the stock market are not conducive to the stable and healthy development of the market,” the Securities Association of China said in a statement, “and as major players in this market, securities companies must take the initiative to shoulder responsibility, to unify as one, merge our wills and safeguard market stability with all our strength.”
But some experts said the moves might not be enough to stop the hemorrhaging of money from the stock markets. “Almost every one of these measures reeks of panic and is very short-sighted. It’s going to be another crazy week,” Fraser Howie, an expert on China’s capital markets, told The Financial Times.
After the markets closed on Tuesday, another 173 firms listed in China announced trading suspensions of their shares. As of Monday, 745 firms had halted trading in their shares.
The New York Times warned that by emphasizing blue chip stocks, the stabilization fund “could end up protecting wealthy Chinese and foreign investors much more than the young workers and families all over China who have borrowed heavily in recent months to buy stocks that seemed to be soaring skyward.”
Shares in large companies represent only about 30% of the overall value of the Shanghai stock market, the Times noted.
“The bailout funds could also end up helping big state-owned enterprises at the expense of smaller businesses, which tend to be in the private sector,” it said.