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Editorial:Central Government's Measures to Support the Markets

【明報專訊】THE PEOPLE'S BANK OF CHINA has announced the reduction of the reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points, thus releasing RMB 1 trillion of liquidity into the market. At the same time, it will increase its efforts to support the financing of rural villages and small and micro enterprises.

Over the past year, the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets have been weak. The CSI 300 Index has plummeted by over 10% throughout the year. The Hang Seng Index has even dropped by nearly 14%, falling for four consecutive years. Since the beginning of 2024, the tumble in both stock markets has continued. As of Monday, the Hang Seng Index had fallen by 8.5%, and the four major indexes of mainland China had hit almost their four-year low. The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen by 7% so far this year.

Data from the foreign media shows that the total market value of the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets has tumbled by over US$6 trillion from the high in 2021. Early this week, the Indian stock market, with a total market value of US$4.33 trillion, even overtook the Hong Kong stock market, valued at US$4.29 trillion, thus becoming the world's fourth-largest stock market after the US, mainland China and Japan.

No doubt there can be a significant discrepancy between the performance of the capital market and the conditions of the real economy or even the public's perception of the economic performance. Despite the US's red-hot stock market and decent economic data, opinion polls show that many Americans believe the economic situation is bad and are dissatisfied with President Biden's administration. As for mainland China, while the stock market is sluggish, its economic growth still reached 5.2% last year. Furthermore, despite the fierce headwinds facing global trade, imports and exports denominated in RMB recorded a slight increase.

The central government has repeatedly stressed that manufacturing is the foundation of the nation and the real economy. The development of finance with Chinese characteristics must adhere to the fundamental principle of serving the real economy. However, when the stock market underperforms, the real economy will inevitably be affected.

During the course of the three-year COVID-19 pandemic, the mainland implemented strict and prolonged lockdowns, which came at a certain economic cost. Local government debts also increased significantly. Furthermore, the mainland was undergoing economic transformation with the promotion of high-quality development, and a heavy-handed approach was taken on the unsustainable real estate development model. This was a step in the right direction. However, it is also an indisputable fact that the real estate market has undergone a substantial adjustment, which has hit domestic demand.

Over the past six months, the central government has repeatedly introduced macroeconomic policies and measures to stabilise the property market and promote consumption. However, it will take time to establish a new model of real estate development and to resolve the local debt problems. High-quality development cannot be achieved overnight. In the capital market, time is of the essence, as it expects more direct measures to prop up the markets.

On Monday Premier Li Qiang proposed taking more "forceful measures" to stabilise the stock market and investor confidence. The foreign media has reported that the mainland is considering a number of rescue measures, including the establishment of a 2-trillion-yuan stock market stabilisation fund.

The central government's measures to rescue the market will certainly have a supportive effect on the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets. However, there are too many variables concerning the domestic and foreign political and economic situations that affect how the markets will move. It will take time to consolidate market confidence. In the meantime, the stock market could fluctuate widely, so investors must pay attention to the risks.

明報社評 2024.01.25:中央出手救市 免累實體經濟

人民銀行宣布下調存款準備金率0.5個百分點,向市場提供1萬億元(人民幣,下同)流動性,同時加大力度「支農支小」,支持農村及小微企業融資。

過去一年,內地與本港股市疲弱,滬深300指數全年跌逾一成,恒指跌幅更接近14%,連續4年下挫。踏入2024年,兩地股市頹勢持續,截至本周一,恒指已累跌8.5%,內地四大主要指數日前也跌至接近4年低位,上證指數今年以來下跌7%。

外媒數據顯示,內地及香港股市總市值,自2021年高位已暴瀉超過6萬億美元,印度股市本周初更「爬頭」,以4.33萬億美元總市值,超越香港的4.29萬億美元,成為全球第四大股票市場,僅次於美國、中國內地及日本。

當然,資本市場表現,跟實體經濟狀况以至民眾對經濟好壞的「體感」,可以存在明顯落差。美國股市火紅,經濟數據相對也不差,但民調卻顯示,很多美國人都覺得經濟狀况糟糕,不滿拜登政府表現;內地股市不振,但去年經濟增長仍達到5.2%,在全球貿易逆風急吹下,進出口以人民幣計價也錄得小幅增長。

中央一再強調,製造業是立國之本,也是實體經濟的基礎,中國特色金融發展之路,必須堅持以服務實體經濟作為根本宗旨,但股市表現太不濟,實體經濟也無可避免受累。

新冠疫情3年,內地長期厲行封控,付出一定經濟代價,地方政府債務亦顯著增加。另外,內地經濟轉型,推動高質量發展,對不可持續的房地產發展模式從嚴整治,大方向正確,但房地產市道大幅調整,對內需造成打擊,亦屬不爭事實。

近半年來,中央一再推出宏觀政策措施穩樓市促消費,惟房地產發展新模式建立需時,地方債務問題也要花時間拆解,高質量發展更不可能一蹴而就。資本市場只爭朝夕,期望有更直接的救市措施。

總理李強本周一提出採取更多「有力措施」,穩定股市及投資者信心;外媒指內地考慮多項救市措施,包括設立2萬億元人民幣股市平準基金。

中央出手救市,對內地和本港股市一定有支持作用,然而當下左右市場走勢的內外政經變數實在太多,市場信心鞏固需時,過程中股市有可能大起大落,投資者須注意風險。

/ Glossary生字 /

discrepancy:a difference between two or more things that should be the same

perception:an idea, a belief or an image you have as a result of how you see or understand something

of the essence:necessary and very important

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