Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Martin Hennecke

Market has last the laugh on Trump tweet
Hong Kong and China stockholders should be grateful to Donald Trump.

Usually, whenever the US president attacks China, it's certain that a hurricane will blow eastwards towards China's and Hong Kong's stock markets.

However, there are exceptions to every rule.

A few days ago, Trump blew his own horn in front of American citizens saying that he was the cause for the plunge in China's A share market, while both US shares and the economy were the strongest they've ever been in history, proving the trade war was a battle that can easily be won.

Ironically, Chinese A shares bounced back after his remarks. Blue chips jumped the most, lifting Hong Kong shares up.

Trump used to be successful in putting down A shares but this time the rebound should be credited to him. It's hard to say how long the market will ride this wave, but it appears to be more than a one-day wonder.

Apart from Beijing's efforts towards stabilizing the yuan, there has been no good news on the stock market.

Trump's remarks this time round have had an opposite effect on A shares, and prompted Beijing to support the market.

The Chinese put great importance on saving face.

Trump also tweeted that the "China market has dropped 27 percent in last 4 months. Our market is stronger than ever, and will go up dramatically when these horrible Trade Deals are successfully renegotiated."

For the record, the Shanghai Stock Exchange composite index dropped 24 percent from the beginning of the year and only 13 percent in last 4 months while the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 29 percent from the start of the year and 20 percent in the last four months.

So it's baffling as to how Trump calculated a decline of 27 percent. However, we need not take Trump's Twitter tirades seriously, as inaccuracies are a hallmark of Trump's style.

So, can the fall in A shares be wholly attributed to Trump?

The answer is obviously "no."

Apart from tariffs, China's stock markets and economy have their own problems and while the trade war may be accelerating the fall it is not the sole cause of it. In fact, mainland stockholders have complained about the mess in A shares and Beijing is aware of their dissatisfaction.

Trump has now pushed A shares under the spotlight, and Beijing will find this hard to swallow.

Since A shares have fallen so much, the time is ripe for Beijing to support the A shares market in one way or the other.

Meanwhile, the markets have grown numb to the ongoing trade war.

Even after China announced retaliatory tariffs on US$16 billion worth of goods yesterday, the stock market wave in China and Hong Kong did not falter, implying that the markets have distanced themselves from trade war for the moment.

This may be a good thing for investors.

As for this rebound, Hong Kong stockholders should not worry too much as interim corporate earnings being currently released are likely to support the market.

The main factor for the market depends on whether A shares can perform well and not be cowed down by Trump's big mouth.

is Editor in Chief of The Standard.

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