China stocks down 7 per cent forcing trading to be suspended

Trading was stopped 90 minutes before the end of the day

Chinese stock markets were suspended on the opening day of trading in 2016 following a plunge of 7 per cent that triggered a circuit breaker intended to curb volatility.

The Shanghai Composite, the benchmark Chinese index, slipped 6.9 per cent lower, while the technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite fell by more than 8 per cent.

Trading was first halted for 15 minutes earlier in the day to try and stop the slide, but when shares fell further, the decision was made to abandon trading for the day. This was the first time that circuit breakers had come into force, stopped trading 90 minutes before the end of the day.

The sell-off followed a private survey that showed a 10th straight month of slowing activity in China's factories in December. 

It also came before the end of a ban on share-selling for listed companies' major shareholders, which was imposed during the stock market crash last summer. 

Gu Yongtao, strategist at Cinda Securities, described it as “a stampede”.

“The slump apparently triggered intensified selling, while the triggering of the circuit breaker seems to have heightened panic, as liquidity was suddenly gone and this is something no one has experienced before,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters