Alibaba, other China ADRs surge as Ant Group capital plan approval fuels hope for relaxing scrutiny

Alibaba has faced growth challenges amid regulatory tightening on China’s domestic technology sector and a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. But analysts think the e-commerce giant’s growth could pick up through the rest of 2022.

Kuang Da | Jiemian News | VCG | Getty Images

Chinese tech stocks that trade in the U.S. jumped Wednesday morning after Chinese officials approved an expanded capital plan from Ant Group.

American depositary receipt shares of Alibaba jumped 13.1% after the news, while stock of JD.com surged 14.7%. Elsewhere, shares of Baidu rose 10.6%, while NetEase and Trip.com popped 8.0% and 6.8%, respectively.

The moves come as investors are seeing signs of a more relaxed Chinese regulatory environment. Ant Group, which previously had its own IPO plans scuttled by regulatory concerns, was allowed to double its registered capital as part of the new plan.

A softer regulatory touch among its tech stocks, as well as the reversal of zero-Covid policies, is seen by some investors as a sign the Chinese government will be supportive of private sector growth this year.

“China has struck a notably accommodating tone in recent months, pivoting away from its stringent COVID controls and dialing back its regulations on previously highly depressed sectors (i.e., property). The recent Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) has set government’s priority for 2023 to revive consumption and support the private sector,” Fawne Jiang of Benchmark wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.

ADRs are similar to common stock, but represent a more indirect form of ownership. They also allow Chinese shares to trade in the U.S. without the companies having to follow U.S. accounting regulations, which has led to concern that they may be delisted at some point.

However, last month the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board — a U.S. accounting watchdog — announced it had received access to examine accounting firms in China and Hong Kong. That move is seen as a positive step in lowering the risk of delisting.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

Correction: Chinese tech stocks that trade in the U.S. jumped Wednesday morning. An earlier version misstated the day.

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