Chinese stocks bounce back on better than expected but still tight liquidity

As is so often the case, liquidity was the driver for Chinese stock today, Monday. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.78% to 3,154.13 points by the close of trading Monday, after initially falling 0.45% during the morning. Two indexes with more exposure to China’s smaller companies and entrepreneurial sector showed bigger gains. The Shenzhen Component Index rebounded by 2.91%, while the startup-heavy ChiNext exchange gained 3.49%. The recovery today follows on the worst five-day period–a 9.6% drop–for Chinese markets since January 2016.

The biggest winners, though, that I’ve been able to eyeball were in the airline sector where, on reports of a very impressive increase in traffic at China Southern Airlines (ZNH), shares of that company and competitor China Eastern (CEA) were up 6.36% and 4.88% in New York trading, respectively.

The impetus for the general recovery were actions by regulators and in China’s banking sector. On Friday the Shanghai Stock Exchange said it had issued warnings and trading restrictions for investors who generated large sell orders. That has been a typical step when regulators wish to damp downside volatility. Yesterday the government reported that new bank loans rose to 2.90 billion yuan in January.

That’s a big increase over the expected 2 billion yuan in loans but a huge drop from the 584 billion yuan in new loans extended in December–in order words credit conditions are still tight in China but aren’t as tight as expected and might even be starting to ease. Outstanding loans grew 13.2% January to January, which was marginally faster than the December year over year growth of 12.7%. The M2 Money Supply grew 8.6% year over year in January, above projections for 8.4% year over year growth and above December’s year over year growth of 8.2%.

China’s markets close for the long Lunar New Year holiday on Thursday and I would expect selling ahead of the long market holiday as Chinese traders are likely to want to limit risk from global events while their own markets are closed.

But Chinese stocks are looking like a possible trade in the next week or so.