China stocks eased slightly on Tuesday despite solid industrial profit data, as investors were cautious ahead of the mid-year earnings season and after the blue-chip index rose to 1-1/2-year highs. The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.2 percent, to 3,659.35 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 percent, to 3,182.66 points. Investors largely looked past news that profits at China’s industrial companies surged 16.7 percent in May from a year earlier, accelerating from April and defying expectations of a slowdown.
With the CSI300 trading near the highest level since early 2016, some investors aren’t sure if the index could run up much further amid signs Beijing will continue to keep liquidity conditions relatively tight. Citing “relatively high” liquidity levels in the banking stem, China’s central bank on Tuesday skipped open market operations for the third consecutive day, as short-term borrowing rates eased recently.
“The central bank doesn’t want the market to form expectations of loose liquidity,” Wang Gang, strategist at Huajin Securities, wrote. “In the future, liquidly will remain relatively tight. Under such a backdrop … there’s limited room for blue-chips to rise further.”
Wang said investors were also bracing for the mid-year earning season, which starts next week, to reassess their portfolios. Most sectors fell, led by real estate stocks, which took a breather and dropped 1.4 percent after jumping nearly 9 percent during the previous two sessions.
Hong Kong’s benchmark indexes were little changed. The Hang Seng index added 0.1 percent, to 25,894.55 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.2 percent, to 10,508.37. The upward momentum in Hang Seng appears to be losing steam, as the recent sharp rise in China blue-chips have boosted the premium mainland “A shares” command over Hong Kong “H shares” to roughly 25 percent, from a low of 13 percent three months ago.
Investors are looking for new catalyst as Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong from June 29 to July 1 to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city from British colonial rule to the mainland.