SHANGHAI — Shares in some Chinese temple operators and lottery vendors rose for a second day on Thursday amid a weak post-Covid recovery as despondent young people rush to pray or gamble amid heightened economic uncertainty.
Data showed that Chinese temple visits more than quadrupled in 2023 compared to 2022, while lottery ticket sales surged to their highest level in a decade in April.
In stark contrast, youth unemployment hit a record 20.4 percent in April, and multiple indicators showed that the economic recovery is losing momentum after an initial rebound after China lifted its zero-Covid policy.
- Advertisement -
Investors were guided by the contradictory data and bought relevant stocks.
Emei Shan Tourism, operator of Mount Emei scenic spot, and Anhui Jiuhuashan Tourism Development, operator of Jiuhua Mountain, both saw their shares rise 10 percent, reaching the daily limit for a second day on Thursday.
The two mountains are among China’s most famous sacred Buddhist mountains, attracting millions of tourists every year to their temples and relics of Buddhist culture.
China Sports Industry Group, the publicly traded company behind the state-run sports lotteries, also rose 10 percent for two consecutive sessions.
“Rising stocks reflect a major change in the macroeconomics this year – increasing pressure on youth employment,” said Mr. Shi Pengfei, a consumer analyst at Beijing-based Spring Capital.
- Advertisement -
“I don’t expect youth unemployment to see a tipping point once the graduation season approaches,” he said. “Meanwhile, when the summer holidays come, the youth will have more time to travel.”
The sector-specific gains contrast with movements in the overall market. China’s main equity benchmark has lost its most gains since November last year after a reopening rally and is down 1 percent since the start of the year as the economic recovery beat expectations and geopolitical tensions mounted.
Instead, households are turning back to safer assets and piling on bonds and deposits, while also seeking mostly state-owned companies such as banks, energy companies and telecom companies that provide reliable bond-like dividends. REUTERS