Millions of individual investors in despair after steep losses

An investor reacts while monitoring stock data on an electronic board at a securities brokerage house in Beijing, China on Aug 26, 2015.
An investor reacts while monitoring stock data on an electronic board at a securities brokerage house in Beijing, China on Aug 26, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

The bloodbath that left the Chinese stock market awash in red ink has kept Mr Du Jinpeng nervously awake for the past few nights as he tallies his losses.

The more than 100,000 yuan (S$21,800) he ploughed into stocks that made up half of his savings has now almost halved in value after the Shanghai Composite Index tumbled around 25 per cent in a little more than a week, wiping out gains made since the middle of December last year.

"I've lost tens of thousands of yuan in the past week alone. I felt very depressed in the beginning but I think I've learnt a lesson about not being too greedy," Mr Du, 44, a Liaoning native who works in the oil industry, told The Straits Times.

"I made some money when I cashed out in December but reinvested my profits in March this year as the market started looking hot again. I regret that decision because now I'm caught in this disaster."

China's stocks dipped by 1.3 per cent yesterday, extending the steepest five-day drop since 1996 in volatile trading as an interest rate cut and a further loosening of bank lending restrictions by the central bank failed to stop a US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) rout.

LESSON ON GREED

I've lost tens of thousands of yuan in the past week alone. I felt very depressed in the beginning but I think I've learnt a lesson about not being too greedy. I made some money when I cashed out in December but reinvested my profits in March this year as the market started looking hot again.

I regret that decision because now I'm caught in this disaster.

MR DU JINPENG, 44, a Liaoning native who works in the oil industry

Mr Du, like many of China's more than 90 million individual stock market investors who make up the majority of trades, has seen his fortunes change drastically since markets turned south after an unsustainable rise of more than 150 per cent in the year to June 12.

Chinese stocks have lost more than 40 per cent of their value since then, prompting Beijing to unleash unprecedented measures to support the market.

But while some investors were in despair at the steep losses they had chalked up, and deeply frustrated with Beijing's botched handling of the stock market, others took the opportunity to run while they were still in the black.

Still, many remain hopeful that the government will step in to halt the slide even as growth falters in the world's No. 2 economy.

Beijing native Huang Lingling, 43, said she sold off all her stocks on Tuesday after the sustained slump spooked her. Having entered the market in June last year before the bull run began, she has managed to hold on to a 70 per cent profit from her 300,000 yuan investment.

"At the peak, my investment more than doubled in value. It's down somewhat now but I think it's better to play it safe and get out of the market because it seemed like a bottomless pit the past few days," she told The Straits Times.

There were media reports of a young migrant worker who, after downing a bottle of liquor, tried to commit suicide by lying down on a railway track in Shanghai on Sunday after he made huge losses on the market with borrowed money. He was dragged to safety just a minute before the train pulled into the station, one report said.

But not all have given up hope. Some investors say they have faith that the government will step in with measures to stem the bleeding.

Ms Jin Hongyan, 41, said she has about 100,000 yuan in the stock market currently, money she had hoped to grow so she could afford a larger house. Although she is still in the black despite the recent rout, she plans to retrieve her initial capital in the next few days due to the turbulence in the system.

"I can't understand the market any more but I remain confident that the government will come out with supportive policies soon," she told The Straits Times.

Thousands also took to the Internet to rant about the roller-coaster ride they have been taken on.

"This is the Great Fall of China. First the Tianjin tragedy and now stock market sadness. Let's keep our heads up," said a user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

• Additional reporting by Carol Feng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Millions of individual investors in despair after steep losses'. Print Edition | Subscribe