China tech shares tumbled on Monday, with a key gauge poised to close at its lowest level since launch last year
as concerns mount over how many more companies could withdraw from American exchanges.
The Hang Seng Tech Index, a gauge of mostly Chinese tech giants traded in Hong Kong, saw losses deepen to as much as 3.6% in afternoon trading. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Trip.com Group Ltd were among the biggest losers, each sinking at least 8.3%. Both companies are also traded in the US.
The decline tracks last week’s 9.1% plunge in the Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index, which was the biggest decline since 2008, on worries that Didi Global Inc’s delisting would put pressure on other Chinese firms.
“The selloffs in the dual-listed stocks in both Hong Kong and the US will continue given the US regulation scrutiny,” said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific Yamaichi. “It could be troublesome for them to submit accounting records to the US government.”
US regulators last week deepened efforts to boot Chinese companies off American stock exchanges for not complying with Washington’s disclosure requirements. A delisting from the US stock market could raise the Chinese firms’ cost of capital and reduce investor pool.
Didi Global’s decision to pull from the New York Stock Exchange just five months after its debut intensified investor angst over the listing status of mainland firms in the US as Beijing tightens its grip on the data-rich private sector. Bloomberg reported last week China plans to impose more curbs on companies going public on foreign stock markets.
Pressure from both US and Chinese regulators has worsened sentiment on tech shares after a disappointing earnings season. The Hang Seng Tech Index has plunged around 47% from a February peak, wiping out about $1.5 trillion of combined market value of its members.
“Policy concern is still the key,” Selina Sia, head of greater China equity research at Credit Suisse Private Banking told Bloomberg Television. “That’s negatively affecting valuations.”
Alibaba is trading at 14 times its 12-month projected earnings in Hong Kong, down from a peak level of 30 times in August last year, while Trip.com has also seen its valuation halved to 24 times over the past seven months.
US institutional investors own around $700 billion of Chinese stocks across A shares, H shares, and American Depositary Receipts.
American mutual funds would take up to two months to unwind their holdings in US- or Hong Kong-listed Chinese stocks, Goldman Sachs Group Inc analysts including Kinger Lau wrote in a note on Monday.
The US market has offered higher valuation multiples than Hong Kong for Chinese companies seeking to go public, thanks to liquidity and investor composition reasons, according to the note.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index also extended declines Monday afternoon, sliding as much as 1.9%. China’s CSI 300 Index erased an earlier gain to close 0.2% lower, its first decline in four sessions.