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China Daily Website

Profit and loss

Updated: 2013-05-20 07:25
By Jiang Xueqing ( China Daily)

Although almost 20 years have passed, Zhang Yun still remembers the first shares she bought. The 62-year-old retired government worker from Chengdu, Sichuan province, started buying shares in the 1990s just as State-owned companies in the province started to go public.

Back then, few people were financially secure and anyone who managed to save several thousand yuan was considered rich. As a result, many companies found it difficult to offload their initial offerings and so local governments stepped in to support them by helping to sell the shares to government employees.

Originally, Zhang planned to buy 2,000 shares of a chemical company that was preparing to go public at an issue price of 1 yuan (16 US cents) per share.

However, worried about the safety of her investment, Zhang only bought 500 shares. When the company did go public, its share price rose to 12 yuan per share at the peak.

Some of the companies that sold their initial shares to government workers listed on the stock exchanges, while others did not. By 2005, Zhang made more than 100,000 yuan in the stock market.

Later, when securities companies were formed all over China, initial stock offerings were no longer available to government employees. The market became red-hot in 2006 to 2007 and Zhang and her husband spent more than 400,000 yuan - a large proportion of their savings - on various shares. However, the Chinese market began to slump in 2007, and when the global financial crisis occurred in 2008, they lost 75 percent of their investment.

"At first, we still wanted to turn our losses into profits. But the more shares we bought and sold, the more we lost. In the end, we gave up and stopped caring about the stock market. I haven't read the stock quotes for several years," said Zhang.

Also in 2007, she bought some funds recommended by bank clerks. At the time, funds were the second-most popular investment option, after shares. She put more than 300,000 yuan into funds, including money from her family and mother-in-law, but lost 40 percent of the investment.

Now, wary of shares and funds, she has turned to more secure investment options with low returns, such as five-year fixed deposits and government bonds. The benchmark interest rate for such deposits is 4.75 percent and only recently has Zhang begun to consider buying some of the financial products offered by banks.