(Bloomberg) -- A few hours before Moody’s Investors Service announced it had cut the outlook for China’s credit rating, the news was being circulated on social media.
Prior to Moody’s announcement at 3:25 p.m. Beijing-time, a 10:51 a.m. post with a screenshot of the decision and its timing was being circulated on Wechat. The post was later removed but preserved by traders.
For some investors, speculation of a potential cut to the outlook had started as early as last Friday in private chat rooms, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
That meant that at least some had a jump start on the announcement. A selloff in shares accelerated in early afternoon trading, with the CSI 300 index dropping as much as 1.9%. The yuan and China’s 10-year government bonds were little changed.
Rating firms typically evaluate sovereign ratings via a committee and then give a heads up, normally a few days prior, to the government involved before making a public announcement, a person familiar with the process said. The decision would normally involve multiple analysts dispersed globally.
Moody’s and China’s Ministry of Finance didn’t immediately respond to requests for a comment.
Moody’s on Tuesday lowered its outlook to negative from stable, while retaining a long-term rating of A1 on China’s sovereign bonds, citing the nation’s increased fiscal stimulus and the prolonged downturn of its property market.
The government pushed back soon after the rating change, saying it was “disappointed” with the decision and that China’s economy “will be highly resilient and has large potential.”
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