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China’s ‘Big Four’ banks rally after state wealth fund boosts stake

Bank of China is one of the major state-owned banks in China. Pictured here is a branch in Shanghai on March 27, 2023.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

China’s sovereign wealth fund, Central Huijin Investment, increased its stake in four of the country’s biggest banks late Wednesday in what is seen as a move to renew confidence in its stock market.

Bank Of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank shares rose between 2.43% and 4.73% in early trading on Thursday, while the broader CSI 300 index gained 0.69%.

Central Huijin boosted its stake in each lender by 0.01 percentage point for the first time since 2015. It said it would continue to increase holdings over the next six months, according to filings.

“Huijin’s buying sends strong signal of the topdown view, and tends to help to shore up market confidence,” said Hao Hong, chief economist of Grow Investment Group.

Investor confidence in China’s stock markets has been shaken by turmoil in its real estate sector as property giants such as Evergrande and Country Garden struggled to repay debt. So far this year, the CSI 300 is down nearly 5%.

All eyes will now be on China’s third-quarter GDP data, which is due to be released next week.

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