China stocks were roughly flat on Thursday morning as positive news on the data front was eclipsed by receding expectations for additional monetary policy support.
The CSI300 index fell 0.1 percent, to 3,336.62 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,091.08 points.
The sluggish market action came even as data showed China’s imports unexpectedly rose in August for the first time in nearly two years, and exports fell at a more modest pace.
“The August official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has already provided a clue that the Chinese economy is steadying,” said Xiao Shijun, analyst at Guodu Securities in Beijing.
Now, the trade data, “also indicates that chances of further easings, say interest rate or RRR cuts, are slim,” he said.
Other factors were also at play.
Lu Wenjie, strategist at UBS Securities, said there is “quite limited” room for further growth in China’s A shares, especially as Chinese money continues to pour into Hong Kong.
The rush of funds to Hong Kong continued under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme on Thursday morning, as investors seek to front-run a similar cross-border link, between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, expected to be launched in November.
The southbound quota of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect , currently set at 10.5 billion yuan, utilised 2.67 billion, or 25.5 percent as of noon.
“Chinese investors’ overseas asset allocation is still too small by international standards,” Lu added.
The Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent, to 23,834.94 points. The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.3 percent, to 10,003.97.
The index measuring price differences between dual-listed companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong stood at 120.08.
A value above 100 indicates Shanghai shares are pricing at a premium to shares in the same company trading in Hong Kong, and vice versa.