February 2, 2018 / 2:16 AM / 5 months ago

China stocks open weaker, small-cap rout deepens amid margin call fears

SHANGHAI, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Chinese stocks fell in early trade on Friday, with small-cap firms struggling and trading suspended in a slew of companies, amid concerns about a pending wave of margin calls and as some announced share purchase schemes to bolster fading confidence.

The CSI300 index fell 0.3 percent to 4,235.33 points at 0209 GMT, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.8 percent to 3,420.85 points.

ChiNext, China’s Nasdaq-style start-up board, opened roughly 0.8 percent lower, but erased losses within 15 minutes of trading. Still, the gauge is heading toward its worst weekly loss in 21 months, and threatens to plumb three-year lows.

ChiNext volatility appears to have dampened sentiment in the broader market.

Trading in at least 20 companies was suspended on Friday in an apparent effort to avoid margin calls.

Meanwhile, major shareholders of a growing list of companies have announced plans to buy shares in their firms, stirring memories of the 2015 stock market crash that sent shockwaves across global financial markets. (Samuel Shen and John Ruwtich; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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