Japan overtakes China to become world's second-biggest stock market


China just lost its ranking as the world’s number two stock market.

After a Thursday slump, Chinese equities were worth $6.09 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with $6.17 trillion in Japan. The U.S. has the world’s largest stock market at just over $31 trillion.

China’s stock market overtook Japan’s in late 2014, then soared to an all-time high of more than $10 trillion in June 2015. Chinese equities and the nation’s currency have taken a beating this year amid a trade spat with the U.S., a government-led campaign to cut debt and a slowing economy.

“Losing the ranking to Japan is the damage caused by the trade war,” said Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment Corp. in Hong Kong. “The Japan equity gauge is relatively more stable around the current level but China’s market cap has slumped from its peak this year.”

The Shanghai Composite Index has lost more than 16 percent in 2018 to be among the world’s worst performers, while the yuan has fallen 5.3 percent against the dollar.

China’s Politburo, a body comprising the Communist Party’s 25 most senior leaders, signaled on Tuesday that policymakers will focus more on supporting economic growth amid risks from the deleveraging campaign and the trade standoff.”The market will likely continue to hover at low levels for the next couple of months,” said Linus Yip, Hong Kong-based strategist with First Shanghai Securities Ltd. “But there’s still a chance that China’s stock market will recover with total capitalization ascending to the world’s No. 2 place again. After all, the economic fundamentals are still stable and growth momentum will resume after a short-term downturn.”

Losing the number two spot is a reminder that China’s role in global financial markets — while large — still doesn’t match its economic might. Policymakers have pledged to open areas such as investment limits on industries from banking to agriculture, but foreign ownership of equities and bonds remains low. The yuan’s share of global payments fell to 1.81 percent in June from 1.88 percent a month earlier, according to data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

While Japan’s benchmark Topix index has declined 3.9 percent this year, it remains one of the better-performing markets in Asia amid support from the Bank of Japan’s exchange-traded fund purchases and as most companies continue to report robust earnings growth. Almost 60 percent of firms on the gauge that have already reported in the current earnings season have beat analyst expectations.

The market value calculations include primary listings only, to avoid double-counting. Hong Kong’s equities are valued at $5.1 trillion.

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