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Stock market needs to grow up

By Hong Liang | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-15 08:01

The Chinese stock market is sometimes likened to an over-grown teenager behaving in ways that often confound analysts and frustrate investors.

The erratic movements in the share prices of some Chinese enterprises, mostly in the aviation, hotel, catering and agriculture sectors, in Hong Kong and Shanghai were widely seen to be an exaggerated response to the latest bird flu scare. Some analysts have attributed such irrationality to market immaturity, predicting that prices will quickly stabilize when investors regain their senses.

What investors' jumpiness has shown up are some real and tangible worries that have been weighing in the minds of many in the past couple of months. First among those is, of course, the macroeconomic trend that is pointing to more sustainable but slower growth in the coming years, in contrast to the unbridled economic expansion of the past. To keep the economy on a steady course, the government is embarking on a bolder phase of reform with sharper focus on the opening of the financial market and protection of the environment.

A program of such grand scale is expected to create fundamental shifts in the business environment, generating new opportunities to those State-owned and private sector enterprises that are flexible enough to adapt, while cutting the lifeline to those that are too clumsy to change. Under such circumstances, some of the reigning stock market stars of today will become the duds of tomorrow while some of the largely ignored gems will one day emerge as the bluest of the blue chips.

Indeed, the stock market bull that showed its face briefly late last year and early this year has largely gone into hiding while analysts and investors are trying to figure out who are hot and who are not under a new economic regime. The dip caused by concern about the H7N9 bird flu was merely an added layer of haze.

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