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China property stocks soar on stimulus hopes
Published on: Thursday, September 07, 2023
By: AFP
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A residential complex built by Chinese property developer Country Garden in Nanjing.
HONG KONG: Shares in battered developers rocketed in Hong Kong on Wednesday on investor bets that Beijing will follow up recent pledges to boost the real estate sector with more measures.

Fears about a debt crisis in the country’s property industry have seen some of its biggest players scythed in recent years as they struggle to repay debtors and finish projects owing to a lack of funds, fuelling worries about the wider financial system.

That has come as the economy stumbles with growth this year expected to be one of the worst for decades.

However, many firms have enjoyed a much-needed bounce in the past week as officials, under pressure to prevent the issue worsening, announced a number of policies to provide support to troubled firms.

Among them are the lowering of down payments for some mortgages and the introduction of tax incentives for people to purchase, while data has shown home sales rebounding, according to Chinese media reports.

On Wednesday, the state-backed Securities Times news outlet said in a commentary that lifting restrictions on buying and selling property could “stabilise the confidence and expectations” of potential homebuyers.

“Restrictive policies in non-top-tier cities can also be cancelled as soon as possible, in accordance with each city’s needs,” it said.

“Right now there is an urgent need to strengthen policy support at points of sale for real estate” to release latent demand, it said.

The purchase limits were meant to address an overheated market and were “no longer timely”.

The remarks lifted optimism that more help was in the pipeline, sending property firms in a tear, albeit from very low levels after years of losses.

China Evergrande, which has been seen as the poster child of the debt crisis, flew 82.8 percent and another troubled company, Sunac, ramped nearly 70 percent higher.

Kaisa advanced almost 27 percent and Evergrande Property Services was 11.4 percent up.

Country Garden bumped 20.8 percent higher, having also been helped by news that it had paid interest on a dollar-denominated bond Tuesday, averting a default for now.

Once among China’s biggest real estate firms, Evergrande and Country Garden have racked up debts estimated at $300 billion and $196 billion respectively—symbols of the nationwide property crisis that many fear could spill over globally.

Xin-Yao Ng, investment manager of Asian equities at Abrdn, told Bloomberg News that the latest spike for property developers was “some hedge funds speculating on more stimulus”.

“The distressed developers are definitely the speculators’ pick to bet on stimulus as they see the biggest delta to policy news,” Ng said.

Willer Chen, senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia, added that the “high frequency sales data in the next two weeks is crucial for investor judgement on whether the policy is helpful enough”.





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