Talk Money with Tony Field – July 10, 2015

China's markets are dominated by individual investors (AAP)
China's markets are dominated by individual investors (AAP)

European and US markets rose this morning following a rebound by the Chinese market yesterday.

China's main Shanghai Composite Index rose 5.8 percent, tech-heavy Shenzhen Composite rose 3.8 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong regained 3.7 percent.

European markets finished higher, with Germany's DAX rising 2.3 percent, London's FTSE up 1.4 percent and the French CAC 40 up 2.55 percent.

Although Wall Street was also up the initial enthusiasm was ebbing away by the close.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 0.19 percent higher, the S&P500 rose 0.23 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.26 percent.

Although US stocks finished in positive territory they were easing in the final few minutes of trading.

Investors are concerned about Greece and far from convinced by the rally in China.  Some analysts warn the authorities have created an artificial bounce in the market.

The rally in the Chinese market came after the authorities took some drastic steps to reverse what had been a 32 percent fall in three weeks - following a 150 percent rise in the market.

Company bosses, senior management and anyone who owns five percent or more of a listed company cannot sell their shares for six months.

The Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission also eased margin requirements in an effort to help investors who had bought stocks with borrowed money.

Half of the listed companies are in a trading halt.

One of them is Beingmate Baby & Child - a company on which Fonterra holds an 18.8 percent shareholding. The company's stock price has fallen 32 percent since Fonterra invested.

Over the past five years there has been a relaxing of the rules in China around what is known as "margin trading".  Investors can buy stock "on margin", meaning they can buy it with borrowed money.

You borrow money from a broker to buy the stock and this can amplify your gains in a rising market.

But when a market falls those investors will face a "margin call", meaning they will have to pay more money to the broker, or come up with more collateral. If they can't, their stocks will be sold.

That selling can accelerate a fall in prices, which in turn leads to more margin calls, and more selling, and more margin calls. That is how you end up with a market falling 30 percent in three weeks.

It also led to around half of China's listed stocks being placed in a trading halt.

What nobody knows is what will happen when the Chinese markets resume full trading.

The slump in the Chinese markets has highlighted how different they are to the markets in countries like the United States and New Zealand.

China's markets are dominated by individual investors, who make up as much as 85 percent of the trades. In countries like the United States and New Zealand the majority of stocks are owned by institutional investors, like retirement funds.

A survey by State Street found that China's 200 million investors tend to trade more than investors in other countries. 81 percent say they trade at least once a month.

Seventy-three percent of investors in Hong Kong trade at least once a month, compared to 60 percent of Japanese investors, 53 percent of Americans, 47 percent of Canadians and 32 percent of French investors.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for global growth this year. It is not because of Greece or the Chinese stock market, but because of a slowdown in the United States.

The IMF is forecasting growth for the world economy of 3.3 percent in 2015, compared with its previous forecast of 3.5 percent.

Last month it lowered its forecast for the US to 2.5 percent for 2015, from an earlier forecast of 3.1 percent. This is because of an unexpected dip in activity in North America in the first three months of the year.

"As dramatic as the events in Greece are the effects on the rest of the world economy from the further suffering of the Greek economy are likely to be limited," says IMF's Director of Research Olivier Blanchard. "Of course, we continue to hope for and work toward a positive solution by which Greece remains in the Eurozone."

After the report's release Mr Blanchard told the BBC that he did not expect the sell-off on the Chinese stockmarket to have major consequences for the world.

The IMF is predicting China will grow by 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent next year.

Iron ore prices surged 9.9 percent, following a fall of 10 percent a day earlier.

Brent crude oil rose 2.7 percent and US crude was up 2.19 percent at $52.78 a barrel.

The New Zealand dollar has gained against the US overnight, trading at 67.32 cents at 8am.

It was trading at 90.44 Australian, 43.76 pence and 61.07 Euro cents.

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