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China's stimulus measures give stocks a boost

China's stimulus measures give stocks a boost
An investor reacts to a screen showing the stock composite index at a brokerage house in Beijing on Aug. 27. (Wu Hong / European Pressphoto Agency)

Asian stocks rose Friday, as Thursday gains in China's stock market and a rally in the U.S. eased concerns that China's slumping economy would seriously impact global growth.

China's benchmark index, the Shanghai Composite, rose 4.82% to 3,232.35 points on Friday; Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished at 21,612.39, down 1.04% for the day; Japan's Nikkei stock average surged more than 2%, and South Korea's Kospi gained 1.4%.

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China's other major indexes -- the CSI 500, Shenzhen Composite and tech-heavy ChiNext -- rose by more than 5%.

The gains brought some reassurance to global markets, which have spent much of the past week reeling from a mass sell-off on China's major exchanges. The Shanghai Composite has shed 43% from its peak on June 12.

Although Chinese stocks rebounded later in the week, they have only begun to recover their losses; the Shanghai index closed up 5.3% at 3,083.59 on Thursday afternoon after falling nearly 23% over a period of six days. On Monday alone, the index dropped 8.5%, triggering a worldwide panic that wiped $1 trillion off the value of shares in one trading day.

Investors seemed reassured by recent Chinese stimulus measures; on Tuesday, the central bank moved to cut interest rates and banks' reserve requirements, making it easier for banks to lend and borrow money. China's vice minister of human resources and social security, You Jun, announced on Friday that pension funds hoped to invest $313 billion "as soon as possible." (The government gave the funds permission to invest in the stock market last weekend.)

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 2.3% on Thursday to 16,654.77, on the back of a Commerce Department report that U.S. gross domestic product expanded 3.7% in the second quarter, far above initial estimates.

Yet analysts were skeptical Friday that Chinese stocks would hold strong. "If you look at the small trading volume, the rebound could be just technical as confidence is still very weak," Hou Yinming, strategist at AJ Securities, told the Reuters news service. "If the rally in blue chips is sustainable, market excitement could be rekindled, but such a scenario is not very likely under the current economic environment."

Twitter: @jrkaiman

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