Paris attacks may add to uncertainty, but big effect on global stock markets unlikely

By Li Qiaoyi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-15 23:33:01

Chinese investors, just like their global counterparts, might have been on edge this weekend as the deadly attacks that rocked Paris on Friday evening added jitters to global markets amid ongoing uncertainty over recovery of the world economy, but any effects in the markets will probably only be in the short term. 

News of the attacks emerged after the close of most global stock markets on Friday. S&P 500 index futures were still open but they only fell by around 1 percent, in an indication that investors are not too concerned about the attacks.

In another sign of calm, stock and derivatives exchange Euronext said over the weekend that French financial markets will continue trading as usual on Monday.

With a weekend to digest information about the attacks, global markets in general are unlikely to fall into the kind of panic that was seen immediately after September 11, although some buy orders may still be put on hold.

The September 11 terrorist attacks occurred on a Tuesday morning in 2001 before the US markets opened. Neither the New York Stock Exchange nor the NASDAQ opened for trading that day, and they remained closed until September 17. Massive sell-offs were then seen in the initial days after the US markets reopened. The attacks in New York sent shockwaves through global markets, with the Chinese stock market taking a hit as well, albeit much less than other markets. But once the economic impact proved to be limited, markets across the globe quickly snapped out of the downward trend.

History tells us that if Friday's attacks prove no more than brief incidents, they are unlikely to have a profound effect on the global economy, and will probably not influence the US Federal Reserve's decision about whether to tweak its monetary policy.

China's equity market has seen sharp fluctuations in recent months, and some unnerved investors may want to liquidate their positions out of concerns about greater volatility in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, as well as new rules doubling deposits for margin trading and a resumption of IPO listings.

Still, the nation's stock markets won't feel any big effect from the attacks, with ramped-up efforts by the Chinese government to crack down on stock market irregularities helping to stabilize market sentiment.

In a fresh move to rectify market order, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China announced Friday that Yao Gang, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, was under investigation over suspected "severe disciplinary violations."

There might be some temporary pressure on the yuan as the attacks may encourage buying into safe-haven assets such as the US dollar. But the impact is unlikely to affect the yuan's inclusion in the IMF's SDR currency basket.

Nonetheless, it is possible that for a certain period of time following the atrocities in Paris, China's outbound travelers might be staying away from France. The country is a dream destination for Chinese tourists, but Chinese stocks exposed to outbound tourism are likely to suffer big falls on Monday.

However, the main effect will be felt by the French tourism sector, rather than the Chinese economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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