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Shanghai investors keep calm amid the stock market storm

The temperature in this small airconditioned room of a brokerage in Shanghai’s Xuhai district was cool, as was the mood even though the stock market had dropped again for the second day running.

In recent weeks, as China’s stock market falls appeared to stabilise, millions of individual investors seemed increasingly assured that state intervention to halt the stock market slide had worked. Then, on Monday, the Shanghai stock market suffered its biggest one-day loss since 2007.

On Tuesday, the Changle Lu branch of Zheshang Securities was busy with around 30 people hunched over computer terminal screens showing share prices. Many of the terminals were displaying green, which in China means losses, with red representing gains. Some of the brokerage customers were frantically punching buttons as if playing on games consoles. This particular stock market game has resulted in serious financial losses for some investors.

Most did not want to talk about how much they had lost or whether they still had faith in the government. Questions were batted away with a resigned wave of a hand. One middle-aged man was leaning over a terminal with his hand on his head in what looked like despair. Heated discussions broke out between four people nearby, apparently discussing which types of stocks were performing better.

Three unhappy-looking women were sitting on orange plastic chairs taking a break from trading. “Everyone is in a bad mood because they are losing money,” said one of the women who did not want to be named. “Today is not a good day to be asking these questions,” she added angrily.

Mr Yuan, standing across the room, was calmly entering data on a computer terminal, deciding what to sell. “I personally have not lost a lot of money,” he said. “I have sold out all the stocks that I held.”

Although he thought the government should take further action, he didn’t think this week’s losses showed the government’s intervention had necessarily failed. China’s stock market “is like a psycho – it has been up and down too great a degree,” he said, adding that investors had become greedy and did not have a “stabilised attitude” to the market.

Mr Zhou nearby was also standing over a screen, eager to stress he had not lost money, prompting a sceptical laugh from a woman at the neighbouring terminal. He does not blame the government for the ongoing volatility. “The stock market has its own way to function,” he said. “Whether the country [intervenes] or not, it has not much to do with the stock market.”

Both Zhou and Yuan said that the Chinese stock markets had changed and that big profits can no longer be made. “We should focus on short-term investment,” said Yuan. Zhou outlined his new strategy: “You buy in when it’s 5 yuan, you sell out when it’s 7 yuan and you gain 2 yuan. That’s it.”

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