China stocks dip as anti-trust probe into Alibaba hits tech shares

China stocks dip as anti-trust probe into Alibaba hits tech shares

China stocks inched lower on Thursday, dragged by tech shares after Beijing launched an anti-trust probe into Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group.

China’s blue-chip index CSI300 fell 0.1% to 5,000.02, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 3,363.11. The tech heavy STAR Market dropped 2.1%, while the CSI TMT Index fell 1.5%. Investor confidence in the tech sector was hit by news that China launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba’s e-commerce and fintech empire.

The probe is part of an accelerating crackdown on monopolistic behaviour in China’s booming internet space, and the latest setback for Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

Spooked investors dumped shares of Alibaba’s subsidiaries and affiliates, as well as other internet firms that risk being targeted by Chinese anti-trust regulators.

Shanghai-listed Hundsun Technologies Inc, partly owned by Alibaba, tumbled 6.6%. E-commerce company fell 4%.

“Antitrust (probe) is a strong signal from the government to guide the development focus of those internet tycoons,” said Vincent Wang, a Shanghai-based partner specialising in antitrust regulators at Global Law Office.

The healthcare, natural resources and energy sectors rose, while consumer and environmental protection stocks fell.

Sentiment in broader Asia was lifted by news that Britain and the European Union were on the cusp of striking a narrow trade deal on Thursday, which would help avoid shipping and travel chaos on both sides of the English Channel.

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