By Chao Deng
Shares in China fell Thursday as Beijing made an apparent attempt to cool domestic insurers’ buying frenzy, which has helped boost the market 4% so far this month.
The Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.40% finished down 0.6%, after China’s insurance regulator raised transparency requirements for insurance funds buying shares in the market. The benchmark had been rallying for three-straight days.
Elsewhere, Asian markets were mixed although a rebound in oil prices lifted energy shares. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.24% gained 1.3%, while the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.49% was up 0.4%. The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.35% finished off 0.5%.
Trading is thinning as the holidays approach. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand, all traded shortened sessions Thursday and are closed on Christmas Day.
Late Wednesday, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said it would require insurance firms to disclose plans to buy stakes up to 5% of listed firms and their sources of funding.
“The regulator wants to prevent systematic risks in the stock market,” said Zhu Bin, an analyst at Southwest Securities.
A gauge of real-estate firms on China’s CSI 300 benchmark of large stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen rose 0.9%, but Gemdale Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208026094/delayed CN:600383 +7.93% plunged 9% and Beijing-based Financial Street Holding /zigman2/quotes/204199774/delayed CN:000402 +2.90% lost 6%.
Real-estate shares have rallied 35% this month, compared with a 6.6% gain for the CSI 300, as investors join the buying spree by Chinese domestic insurers in recent weeks. Insurers have disclosed more than a dozen significant stakes in Chinese blue-chips in the past few months, according to analysts.
Shares of China Vanke Co. /zigman2/quotes/203851375/delayed HK:2202 +6.76% , one beneficiary of the buying, rose 19% in Hong Kong and 62% in Shenzhen before trading was suspended on Dec. 18. The firm, China’s largest property developer, said late Wednesday that it signed up Anbang Insurance Group as a key shareholder, securing an important ally in its fight to fend off a group of investors from a possible takeover attempt.
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Meanwhile, startup stocks on China’s ChiNext board /zigman2/quotes/210597994/delayed XX:SZX00065 -1.12% were down 2%, after the State Council, or cabinet, said Wednesday that it will launch a new startup board in Shanghai for the country’s small and innovative companies.
The ChiNext Price Index is up nearly 90% this year, outpacing the Shanghai Composite Index’s 11.7% gain, despite a summer rout that brought Chinese stock markets down by more than a third at their worst point in August.
The State Council didn’t provide further details, although the new board will likely face competition from the existing ChiNext market. Some had expected the board to launch this year although a stock-market crash this summer put many of Beijing’s intended market reforms off track.
In Australia, shares were up for the seventh-straight day with energy shares rising 6.5% this week. It was the sector’s strongest performance since the week ending Nov. 20.