Bubble feared as China's index soars beyond 4000

By Sean O'Grady, Karen Attwood

China's main stock index has crashed through the 4000 barrier for the first time, fuelled by demand from individual investors despite warnings that a stock market bubble is being created.

Shanghai's benchmark CSI 300 index soared 2.2 per cent to close at 4072.58, and the value of shares traded on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges hit a record US$50.9 billion ($69 billion), exceeding the US$43.9 billion that changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange on May 25.

Among the stocks to rise to the 10 per cent daily limit were China International Marine Containers and Tsingtao Brewery.

Despite caution among institutional investors, individuals continue to pour money into the markets. More than 300,000 people a day opened brokerage accounts in China last week. As the country's wealth grows, everyone from students and farmers to business people and pensioners are choosing to put their savings into the stock market rather than bank accounts. The CSI 300, which tracks yuan-dominated A shares listed on China's two exchanges, has risen 206 per cent in the past year. This compares to the 3.06 per cent that commercial banks offer.

The index has jumped 14 per cent since May 6, sparking fears of a stock market bubble.

Last week, the former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned that the market could undergo a "dramatic correction".

The Ministry of Education is advising students not to get involved in stock trading as they would be unable to bear any losses.

Meanwhile, the Port of Ningbo in China, the country's second biggest after Shanghai and the fourth largest in the world, is one of the latest state-owned firms planning an initial public offering.

Ningbo will join 14 Chinese ports which have already been taken to market. Last year, Ningbo Port enjoyed revenues of 4.6 billion renminbi ($800 million) and profits of 1.5 billion renminbi.

- INDEPENDENT

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