China’s stocks are set for a rocky start to 2019

China’s stocks are set for a rocky start to 2019

However, a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies is far from certain, especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping took a relatively defiant tone toward international demands in his key address to the nation this week.

Investors are also on edge about potential interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve next year, especially since a stronger U.S. dollar could weaken the yuan. If the Chinese currency falls below the key 7 yuan per dollar level, it would offset the negative impact of tariffs, although it is still not clear if that would help or hurt investor sentiment.

Months before trade tensions with the U.S. flared up, the Chinese government embarked on a campaign to tighten credit conditions in an effort to reduce companies’ reliance on debt for fueling growth.

Amid criticism Beijing went too far too fast, economic growth continued slowing and the Shanghai composite slumped into a bear market, or more than 20 percent below its 52-week high, in late June. Over the next several months, authorities jumped to announce looser credit conditions, tax cuts and financing for struggling private enterprises.

But so far, the market has barely budged. The Shanghai composite hit a near-four-year low in October, and has since recovered slightly. But it remains at half the level it hit in 2015, before a market crash that summer.

“Emotions haven’t really recovered,” said Sheryl Shen, an investor relations representative for Chinese wealth manager Noah Holdings, according to a CNBC translation.

She said that the company has had difficulty convincing its high-net worth clients to invest in long-term products that last 10 years. Right now, she said most clients are more conservative and prefer investment products with time horizons of one to five years.

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