Shanghai Composite Set for a Volatile Trading Week

As U.S. officials ramp up the pressure on trade, Chinese stocks face major technical sticking points

by Bernie Schaeffer

Published on Oct 9, 2018 at 10:32 AM

Global trade uncertainty has cast a pall over the equities market for months now, so news of the freshly minted U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) gave stocks an early jolt higher at the start of last week's trading. But the "please don't call it NAFTA 2.0" deal also served to underscore the inability of the U.S. and China, as of yet, to resolve their own escalating trade spat. And if anything, relations between the two countries grew still chillier last week.

Broadening the tensions beyond trade, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both accused Beijing of attempting to undermine the upcoming U.S. elections, which elicited a strong denial by the Chinese government. Meanwhile, a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story exposed the alleged infiltration of major U.S. tech companies via the stealth implantation of microchips in hardware manufactured on the Chinese mainland. Notably, China's stock market was closed last week for holiday -- and given the negative news flow, it was likely a welcome respite for investors.

The Shanghai Composite (SSEC) entered "official" bear-market territory on June 25, when it closed more than 20% below its Jan. 29 intraday peak of 3,587.03. That bear-market threshold -- denoted by the red dashed line on the accompanying chart -- rests at 2,869.62, squarely in the middle of a formidable cluster of potential resistance.

Directly overhead is the round-number 2,900 level, a psychologically significant century marker that capped the index's late-July/early August rebound attempt. And directly below, at 2,866.78, is a 23.6% Fibonacci retracement of SSEC's decline from its January high into its September low.

On the other side of this equation, however, SSEC has twice found intraday support around 2,650 -- once in late August, and again in mid-September. To be more specific, the benchmark's reigning annual low of 2,644.29 was set on Sept. 18, and the 2,645 level corresponds with a 20% year-to-date loss for the index.

Plus, following its latest rebound from this support level, SSEC has managed to break out above the resistance of its 40-day moving average and -- as of the Sept. 28 market close, for the first time since Feb. 5 -- its 80-day moving average, as well. The next notable trendline to challenge would be the 126-day, equivalent to roughly half a year's worth of trading days, which acted as resistance throughout much of December 2017 after being breached early that month.

With pressure from the U.S. already ramping up hard last week -- and unlikely to ease, following a Friday report that showed the August trade deficit expanding to $53.2 billion -- it should be a volatile return to trading for Shanghai-listed stocks this week. And while the bulls and bears are quite likely to remain in a standoff in the absence of concrete developments on trade, chart-watchers should monitor the key support and resistance zones highlighted in this space to avoid biting on a "breakout" (or "breakdown") in Chinese stocks too quickly.

shanghai composite index chart

Subscribers to Bernie Schaeffer's Chart of the Week received this commentary on Sunday, October 7.

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