SHANGHAI – Asian stock markets fell Tuesday after China’s central bank injected almost $20 billion into the country’s economy and Chinese stock market authorities said they were reviewing measures to stabilize trade volatility after Monday’s massive sell-off.
The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.26 percent at 3287.71, after falling as much as 3.2 percent in earlier trading, while the CSI 300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen ended the day up 0.3 percent.
Shanghai and other Asian indices traded in positive territory earlier in the session before ending slightly lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.42 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.65 percent.
Monday’s 7 percent drop on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges prompted a trading halt and a global market slump on the first trading day of 2016. Escalating tensions in the Middle East and weak manufacturing data coming out of China.
On Tuesday, the People’s Bank of China offered 130 billion renminbi (or $19.9 billion at current exchange) worth of seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.25 percent. It had previous announced a suspension of the offerings at the end of 2015, ending six-months of cash injections designed to lower borrowing costs.
Also on Tuesday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) released a statement stating that it might reconsider its position on regulating share sales by major holders and senior executives in listed companies.
The announcement addresses concerns about the end of a six-month lockup on share sales by major institutional investors, which expires on Friday. Many fear the lifting of the ban will result in significant institutional stock sell-offs.
Also under review by China’s securities regulator is the “circuit breaker” mechanism, which was enacted Monday on its first day of operation.
“China has no experience of using the circuit breaker mechanism, and it takes time for the markets to adapt to new rules,” the CSRC said. “The circuit breaker did play its role in calming investors down, based on what happened on Monday. There is no one standard way of using the circuit breaker, and it cannot be perfect in one go, we will consider improving the mechanism based on specific situations.”
Analysts pointed the finger at the mechanism for exacerbating selling on China’s share markets Monday, saying many investors were opting to make pre-emptive sales rather than be caught out by any sudden downturn.
“Many of China’s newly introduced ‘circuit breakers’ look to have only compounded panic selling yesterday as investors rushed to get their sell order out the door before they got caught in a limit-down,” Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.
China’s government faces a major challenge in encouraging market stability, without being on the hook for market bailouts, as seen last summer.
That unprecedented stock market rescue has been blamed for lowering trading volumes, which leaves the market more susceptible to major peaks and troughs, and has kept away foreign investors, who are less volatile than local retail investors.