China’s latest tech crackdown weighs on stocks

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A slide in Hong Kong-based technology and internet heavyweights following Beijing’s latest regulatory crackdown pushed an index of emerging markets shares on Monday to their lowest this month, while Russia’s Rusal jumped on debt repayment.

Shares of tech giants Meituan, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings slumped between 2.5% and 4.5%.

In the latest in a series of increasing oversight on businesses, Beijing sought to break-up Ant Group’s hugely popular payments app, Alipay, and create a separate app for the company’s highly profitable loans business, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

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“Buying the dip in China equities in this environment remains akin to catching a very sharp falling knife,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

MSCI’s Asia-heavy EM equities index fell almost 1%, with gains in bourses elsewhere being muted. Investor focus was also on U.S. August inflation data due on Tuesday for more clues on what the Federal Reserve may decide on its stimulus next week.

Shares of Russia’s aluminum giant Rusal jumped 9% on the Hong Kong exchange, while the Moscow listing hit an all-time high after the company repaid 27 billion roubles ($371 million) of debt to lender Sberbank ahead of schedule.

South Africa rand recovered lost ground to trade 0.3% higher. President Cyril Ramaphosa said COVID-19 curbs would be eased from Monday, with a nation-wide curfew to be shortened, as infections decline.

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Turkey’s lira managed to hold on to gains, up 0.2% at 8.46 per dollar, even as data showed factory activity disappointed and current account deficit narrowed less than expected. President Tayyip Erdogan over the weekend said economic growth, exports and employment are all strong in Turkey.

Societe Generale on Monday warned investors to prepare for the lira to weaken to 8.85 versus the dollar by the year-end as political pressure increases the risk of pre-mature policy easing.

The Belarusian rouble extended gains to a fifth straight session against the euro. The International Monetary Fund said it will launch a virtual mission to Belarus to gather data on economy amid Western calls to restrict government access to funds.

Shares of Chinese office developer SOHO China tumbled 25% on Monday after Blackstone Group Inc scrapped a $3 billion deal in what would have been China’s largest real estate buyout.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)