Politics and stock markets are intertwined, especially in the case of the US and China.
Reports emerged late Tuesday, however, that the NYSE may reverse itself once again.
The initial New Year’s Eve announcement took a toll on the telecoms’ stocks Monday, the first trading day of 2021, when shares of the three companies sold off. They did the opposite on Tuesday. China Mobile rose $2.49 to $29.35, up 9.3 percent. China Telecom increased $2.30, or 8.8 percent to $28.34; and China Unicom rose 65 cents, or 11.8 percent to $6.15.
The NYSE had citied talks with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the Treasury Department as the reason for its reversal.
The exchange said that it had consulted “relevant regulatory authorities” about outgoing US President Donald Trump’s executive order, signed in November as part of a push to check China’s growing economic might.
The order banned American investment in 35 companies that the US Department of Defense said have ties to China’s military.
“The last thing the NYSE wants to do is have to delist these Chinese companies,” Alan Seem, a partner at law firm Jones Day, told The Wall Street Journal. Seem previously worked on the IPOs of China Mobile, China Telecom and other Chinese companies.
Mnuchin, however, reportedly has disagreed with the NYSE reversal.
“Mnuchin called @NYSE’s (President Stacey) Cunningham to say he disagrees with the exchanges decision to reverse course on the Chinese Telecom dealing,” a Bloomberg News reporter wrote on Twitter. And a report Tuesday evening on bloomberg.com citing three sources said the NYSE would revert to its original delisting plan.
“If it is true that someone @USTreasury advised @NYSE to reverse the decision to delist these Chinese companies, it was a outrageous effort to undermine @POTUS Executive Order,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a frequent China critic.
Reuters reported that the NYSE may have first reversed itself over ambiguity about whether the companies were covered in the order.
“Some funds that had an obligation to unload these shares will now need to buy them back,” Jackson Wong, director of asset management at Amber Hill Capital Ltd in Hong Kong, told bloomberg.com.
Whatever happens with the listings, there still will be some political uncertainty as the Biden administration is set to commence on Jan 20.
“The Biden team will prefer a much more nuanced approach to these issues, with clear criteria for controlling both US technology exports to Chinese companies, and for considering restrictions on trading in the securities of specific Chinese firms,” Paul Triolo, head of Eurasia Group’s geo-technology practice, told Barron’s.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that the “status of the US as an international financial center depends on global companies and investors’ trust in the tolerance and certainty of its rules and systems”.
The three Chinese telcos’ ADRs (American depositary receipts) on the NYSE account for less than 2 percent of their equity. Investors also can swap their ADR holdings for Hong Kong-listed shares.
Many investors are looking to increase holdings of Chinese stocks, realizing the growth outlook in an economy that is recovering from the pandemic faster than others.
The CSI 300, which tracks the value of the largest companies on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges, closed 1.9 percent higher on Tuesday at 5,368 points, its loftiest level since January 2008.