Hedge funds dumped Chinese stocks in August, says Goldman

By Carolina Mandl

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global hedge funds “aggressively” sold Chinese stocks amid heightened concerns over the country’s property sector and a weak batch of economic data, a Goldman Sachs report on Tuesday showed.

All types of stocks were sold in early August, but A-shares, those listed in the domestic stock market, led the sell-off, comprising 60% of it, the bank said.

“Hedge funds have net sold Chinese stocks in eight of the last 10 sessions on the prime book through 8/14,” it said, adding its clients divested both their long and short positions.

This is the largest net selling in Chinese equities over any 10-day period since Oct 2022 and one of the steepest moves in the past five years.

Hedge funds sold 70% of what they bought in the first 5 days post the July 24 Politburo meeting on stimulus hopes, Goldman Sachs estimates.

New York listed – KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF, which offers exposure to China’s largest internet companies such as Tencent and Alibaba, slumped 12% in August, the biggest monthly decline since February.

Goldman Sachs, as one of the biggest providers of lending and trading services through its prime brokerage unit to investors, is able to track hedge funds’ investment trends.

Global investors have raised concern about China’s economy as a confluence of recent events has darkened its economic outlook, and the policy response is viewed as insufficient.

On Tuesday, a broad array of Chinese economic data highlighted intensifying pressure on the economy from multiple fronts, prompting Beijing to cut key policy rates to shore up activity.

Chinese property giant Country Garden is seeking to delay payment on a private onshore bond and a major Chinese trust company that traditionally had sizable exposure to real estate, Zhongrong International Trust Co, has missed some repayment obligations.

Hedge funds are increasingly wary of their exposure to China. A raft of U.S.-based hedge funds, including Coatue, D1 Capital and Tiger Global, cut their positions in Chinese stocks in the second quarter, as the country’s economic prospects already seemed to wobble and geopolitical tension increased, securities filings showed on Monday.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive order to prohibit some U.S. technology investments in China also caused some investors to further reduce their exposure to the world’s second largest economy.

A UBS report on Monday showed China’s semiconductor sector has been sold significantly by hedge funds in the past two weeks.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl in New York; Additional reporting by Summer Zhen in Hong Kong; Editing by Sonali Paul and Muralikumar Anantharaman)