The trading day starts off DOWN in China

10/20/2010 8:30 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

  So far on China’s stock markets it’s still the same old story: Anytime the central bank raises interest rates, as it did yesterday October 19, or does anything that might slow growth or hinder asset speculation, stocks drop like a stone.

Except for real estate stocks: They drop like boulders.

In the first hour of trading after the People’s Bank of China raised its benchmark lending and deposit rates of interest, the Shanghai Composite Index fell by 1.3% (as of 10 a.m. in Shanghai.) That took the stock down from a six month high.

Hardest hit were real estate developers such as China Vanke and Poly Real Estate, which both dropped by 6% on fears higher interest rates would slow the speculative market for housing. Commodity prices fell too led by PetroChina.

The timing of the People’s Bank’s unexpected move—coming right after the annual meeting of the Communist Party—has set off fears that this isn’t a one off rate increase but instead marks the first step in a new tougher attempt to deflate the real estate market and to reverse rising inflation that party leaders hammered out at the meeting. China hadn’t raised its benchmark interest rates since 2007.

The question for global stock prices is whether the morning’s declines on China’s markets build enough momentum to produce one of those rolling global corrections where falling prices in Asia lead to falling prices in Europe that lead to falling prices in the U.S. market that lead to another decline in Asian markets.

It doesn’t help that investors and traders were nervous anyway about China’s markets because the government is due to release data on September inflation and third quarter GDP this week. The fear going into the data was that it would show the economy growing too strongly and inflation on an upward trend.

One theory going around Wall Street after the People’s Bank raised interest rates was that the move was an attempt to get in front of bad economic data on inflation and economic growth due for release this week.

And that hasn’t helped anyone’s nerves.

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