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China's 'nifty 50' at 6-month low on weak investment data

While construction activity decelerated in May, fixed asset investment slowed in first 5 months

Reuters  |  Shanghai 

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

fell on Wednesday, with the country's leading "50" stocks posting their worst day in six months, as data reinforced views that the world's second-largest economy will start to lose some momentum in coming months.

Trading was thin, however, as investors awaited a likely US interest rate hike later in the session and debated whether the China's central bank would follow with a modest tightening of its own, as it did in March.

The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.3 per cent to 3,535.30 points, while the closed down 0.7 per cent at 3,130.67.

The Index, dubbed China's "50" index, slumped 1.5 per cent in its worst day since mid-December, as investors took profits in blue-chips which had far outperformed the broader market in the past months.

Investors also dumped stocks — mainly big-caps — that are partly-owned by Anbang Insurance Group, after the acquisitive company said late on Tuesday its chairman Wu Xiaohui was no longer able to fulfil his duties.

Hours earlier, Chinese magazine Caijing reported that Wu had been taken away for investigation.

Anbang-invested shares, including Financial Street Holdings, China Vanke, China Merchants Shekou, Gemdale and China State Construction Engineering, dropped sharply.

Confidence was further dented by data that showed grew more slowly than expected in the first five months of the year, while the pace of starts decelerated sharply in May.

That weakness, if sustained, suggests a cooling in China's economic growth in coming months, though industrial output and retail sales are holding up better than expected and cushioning a broader slowdown.

"Given the recent data, we are almost certain to see a continued slowdown in the second half of 2017 and 2018," wrote Larry Hu, an analyst at Macquarie Capital.

"Reflation has become disinflation. Inventory stocking has turned into destocking. Property is entering a downcycle."

Main sectors fell across the board, led by real estate and banking stocks.