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Alibaba, other tech stocks drop as Goldman downgrades China growth forecast

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Some of China’s biggest tech names fell on Monday, weighed by concerns the government may not provide enough stimulus with Goldman Sachs becoming the latest Wall Street bank to cut its growth forecasts for the world’s second-largest economy.

Shares of video-sharing platform Bilibili Inc.
9626,
-5.23%

BABA,
-0.11%

slumped 5.2% in Hong Kong, while e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding
9988,
-2.07%

BABA,
-0.11%

fell 2%, with those losses helping to drive a 0.6% decline for the Hang Seng
HSI,
-0.64%

index. Shares in another big tech name, Tencent Holdings
700,
-1.60%

fell 1.5%.

The losses came amid concerns China officials aren’t working fast enough to stimulate the economy. Investors were focused on a disappointing cabinet meeting on Friday, which was notable for its lack of “concrete stimulus” said Goldman Sachs analysts.

“The readout suggests to us that the government faces various economic and political constraints. Going down the old route of boosting short-term growth with massive property and infrastructure stimulus goes against the top leadership’s ‘high-quality growth model,’” said a team led by Hui Shan.

And Goldman sees limited options for the government to even boost the economy, with Shan and the team noting that ongoing policy support in high-end manufacturing and new energy vehicles are unlikely to drive much growth.

Citing a second straight month of weak data in May, the Goldman analysts on Sunday cut their 2023 full-year real GDP growth forecast to 5.4% from 6% and their 2024 growth forecast to 4.5% from 4.6%.

“On net, we think the persistent growth headwinds (property slowdown and confidence deficit in particular) are likely to win the upper hand in the tug of war between weakening growth momentum and increased policy easing,” said the Goldman analysts

The People’s Bank of China surprised the market last week with a 10 basis point cut in a short-term lending rate, but Goldman analysts said they had expected a cut in the country’s key Reserve Requirement Ratio (RRR). They now see China cutting that RRR rate by 25 basis points in the third quarter and 10 basis points in the fourth.

Goldman joins a group of Wall Street banks ratcheting down their China forecasts recently, with UBS last week trimming its 2023 growth expectations to 5.2% from 5.7%, citing weak May data and signals that June may be no better. JPMorgan last week cuts its own China outlook to growth of 5.5% from 5.9%, due to a “loss of recovery momentum in domestic activity and growing concerns of deflation.”

U.S. investors have largely shied away from investing in China this year, to the extent that Bank of America said earlier this month that investing in Hong Kong had become a major contrarian bet.

“The fact that global investors, as opposed to dedicated emerging market investors, do not want to invest in China stocks is increasingly understood. This has to be one explanation for the current fashion among foreigners to invest in Japanese stocks with the Nikkei and the Topix now at their highest levels since March 1990 and July 1990 respectively,” Christopher Wood, global head of equity strategy at Jefferies, told clients in a note.

The Nikkei 225
NIK,
-1.00%

slipped 1% on Monday but has gained 28% this year. U.S. markets are closed Monday in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

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