Are Chinese tech shares showing signs of a near-term bottom?
The Hang Seng Tech Index, which tracks the 30 largest tech-themed companies listed in Hong Kong, has delivered a drawdown of as much as 68% since its February’s peak last year.
The Hong Kong Tech Index, which tracks the 30 largest tech-themed companies listed in Hong Kong, has delivered a drawdown of as much as 68% since its February’s peak last year. Although there were some attempts to stabilise in recent weeks with further policy support from authorities and easing Covid-19 restrictions, previous rounds of dip-buying were met with relatively short-lived relief rallies. This bodes the key question of when we can actually see an eventual bottom.
From a valuation standpoint, the price-to-book ratio for the index currently stands at 0.96, which may seem to be at an attractive level on a longer-term timeframe, trailing way below the Nasdaq 100 index valuation of 6.7. That said, to provide a longer-term confidence boost for the sector, several uncertainties may be on watch.
Some risks to watch
1. Covid-19 risks
While there has been some relief following China’s upcoming shift towards normalcy, its zero-Covid-19 stance remains in place, which points towards on-and-off economic restriction measures in the event of any virus outbreaks. Its low elderly vaccination rate and lopsided distribution of healthcare resources suggests that its strict position may not see a shift anytime soon. One may have to watch for a prolonged period of low virus cases, which may revive market confidence in the authorities to keep virus spreads under control and potentially put Covid-19 risks on the backseat. Additionally, we may have to see markets gradually adjusting their expectations around intermittent virus outbreaks, with any resilience in market performance to rising virus cases potentially a positive sign.
2. Regulatory risks
Just as dip-buyers carry some belief that regulatory reforms from authorities may be nearing its end, there have always been overnight surprises thrown in their way. While the hot-and-cool tone around the regulatory landscape continues to play out, one may have to watch for signs of a shift in tone from the authorities to potentially display some form of compromise. This will remain a black box, with the latest hurdle revolving around the potential delisting of Chinese tech firms from US stock exchanges. Previous talks have not seemed to lead to any concrete results, reinforcing the fact that it is a tricky issue to resolve.
3. Global risk sentiments
Global risk sentiments remain largely fragile in light of further tightening from central banks and the impending trade-off for economic growth. While China’s policies are deviating towards the accommodative end, any global risk-off mood may have a knock-on impact on performance in the region as well. With policy support and economic reopening, a stronger recovery in economic indicators over the coming months will be on watch ahead to gauge the impact of easing policy success and pent-up demand. That said, the huge drawdown for the Chinese tech sector since February last year has brought its valuation to near record low level, which may aid to limit the extent of losses from the global scale. The 20-day correlation between the Hang Seng Tech Index and the Nasdaq 100 Index has been negative since mid-May this year, and any divergence in performance ahead may be a positive sign of breaking away its influence from external factors.
What can we expect in the near-term
The KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB) offers exposure to Chinese software and information technology, with its top few holdings comprising of Tencent Holdings (10.6%), Alibaba Group Holding (9.0%), Meituan (7.8%), JD.com (7.4%), Baidu Inc (6.9%) et cetera. From a technical perspective, equity bulls may be seeking to defend a key support line at the $26.00 level, which marked its bottom back in 2013 and 2015. While a previous symmetrical triangle pattern may denote some market indecision, a recent break out of the triangle this week may seem to suggest that buyers are seeking to regain greater control. That said, should the $26.00 fail to hold, it may point to the strong bearish pressure in place, opening the doors for further downside.
On the monthly chart, a hammer candlestick seems to be in place, coming after three consecutive months of negative performance. That may potentially increase the chances of a near-term rebound, with one to watch for any confirmation close in the coming month.
Technical analysis – Hong Kong Tech Index
While the higher highs and higher lows for the Hong Kong Tech Index in recent weeks suggests an attempt for a near-term upward trend, a key resistance at the 4,500 level may need to be overcome in order to provide further upside. This is where a downward trendline since November last year stands in place with a horizontal resistance level, which weighed on the index on two previous occasions since April. In the event of a retracement, the 4,067 level may seem to be on watch for any formation of a higher low, where the lower trendline of an ascending channel pattern may serve as support.
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