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Chinese regulators warn four analysts over Feb 2022 strategy report

Morning rush hour in Beijing's CBD area

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's securities regulator said on Thursday it had issued a warning letter to four analysts at China Merchants Securities who jointly wrote a strategy report last year that the regulator said was neither rigorously presented nor adequately explained.

The research report, published in February 2022 when China was battling the pandemic, predicted that the domestic stock market would still seek bottom following a rebound, as the economy was under heavy downward pressure.

Negative comments by analysts and commentators in China are often censored and have come under increased regulatory scrutiny.

"The expressions used in the report are not rigorous, while the methodologies used to forecast A-shares, logic applied, and views quoted from earlier reports, were not adequately described in the report," the Shenzhen bureau of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a statement on its website.

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The CSRC said on Thursday that the four analysts can raise objections within 60 days after receiving the punishment.

The analysts - Zhang Xia, Chen Gang, Geng Ruitan and Tu Jingqing - did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment after business hours on Thursday.

The warning comes as China's stock market is struggling to stand on its feet amid signs the post-COVID recovery is losing steam. China's benchmark CSI300 Index hit six-month lows this week.

On Thursday, CSRC Chairman Yi Huiman told a forum that recent stock market volatility has stirred discussions around market fairness, speculative activities, and institutions' responsibility, vowing to take actions to safeguard healthy market order.

Other analysts and commentators in China have been censored or come under scrutiny after negative comments in the past.

Last May, Hong Hao, former head of research at Bank of Communications International Holdings Co, left the state-owned brokerage days after he was censored on social media platforms following a series of downbeat commentaries on Chinese stocks.

Separately, China's securities watchdog last March launched a crackdown on brokerages using feng shui to predict stock market trends in their research notes, state media reported.

(Reporting by Shanghai newsroom)