A screenshot which contains four detailed paragraphs revealing "China's reopening plan" has stirred up the trading community. However, the source and the validity of the screenshot remains unknown.
Posted by an unverified account, the screenshot uncovers characters on a white background with no identifying marks. It first started circulating on Chinese social messaging app WeChat on Monday (31 October), reports Bloomberg.
The photo made its way through groups of analysts and fund managers and by the next morning, it was spreading like wildfire.
It was revealed in the screenshot that a meeting was held on Sunday of Covid-19 experts at the request of President Xi Jinping.
The meeting was conducted by China top official Wang Huning, one of seven men on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee – which was attended by members of the economic and propaganda departments there.
The text referred to Xi as "big boss" and used "WHN" to refer to Wang in a bid to sidestep censors, who manages messages and social media posts on China's political elite.
The document showed that the participants of the meeting discussed "speeding up a conditional opening plan, with the goal of substantially opening by March next year".
The morning after the screenshot was leaked, the post was shared by "96 Old Stock Trader" on Xueqiu, a Chinese-language financial platform. It was then noticed and tweeted by the prominent Hong Kong-based economist Hong Hao.
This had sent in motion a $320 billion rally.
Investors has been on a look out for an opportunity to scoop up Chinese stocks, which have been among the worst performers globally as the economy inches towards the slowest pace in four decades.
"Equities saw a historic rout last week after Xi consolidated power in a twice-a-decade personnel reshuffle, and the yuan weakened to a 14-year low," reports Bloomberg.
Covid-19 lockdowns as well as weak consumptions have had a significant effect on the investment outlook in China. However, Xi, with his allies in key positions, is ready to build the economy before the next annual session of China's legislature in March.
"Reopening is not a decision that can be made overnight," said Hong, a partner and chief economist at hedge fund Grow Investment Group. "It has to be through careful study and communication. That is why most of us think that after the Twin Sessions in March is a good time to reopen."
This incident paints the rare image of how difficult it is to obtain accurate information in the world's second-biggest economy. In China, the internal government deliberations and leadership changes are closely guarded secrets which then leads to leaks similar to this, often unverifiable.
The rumours are still circulating on Wednesday with Twitter user Shanghai Macro Strategist claiming to be a China strategist, posting screenshots purporting to be from two Chinese brokerages reporting upcoming changes to China's Covid policies.
Another screenshot showed Haitong Securities Co saying a meeting would be held Friday to ease quarantine requirements and remove circuit breakers for flights, among other measures.
However, the brokerage has stated that the screenshot is false through an email reply to Bloomberg news.
"A lot of media reports, let me put it this way, they really don't understand China very well and they have a short-term focus," Fang Xinghai, a vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said in prerecorded remarks to Hong Kong's banking summit on Wednesday. "I would advise the international investors to find out what's really going on in China and what's the real intention of our government by themselves."
Despite having no knowledge of source and authenticity of the screenshot, traders found it enough to dive in and scoop up stocks for two days.