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Investors Will Be Parched if China Tightens Monetary Spigot

But the analysts are not ruling out policy rate hikes in line with those approved by foreign central banks to keep the fast-growing economy from dangerously overheating.

Chinese leaders are also still looking for ways to keep housing prices in check so homes remain affordable to the middle class. New control measures could make lending tougher.

Analysts expect no massive new tightening move for the short term, as the economy is performing with few shocks. Further holding things steady, most Chinese companies are expected to report so-so to upbeat 2012 earnings. And then the government will probably clarify its monetary policies next week when China's parliament-like National People's Congress holds its mores important meeting of the year.

The market also has dropped to "near technical support levels" already, says Herbert Hui, research director with DBS Vickers Securities in Hong Kong.

The longer term is harder to forecast. I go with this cautious view from Lorraine Tan, director of Asia equity research at S&P Capital IQ, also in Hong Kong: "We think monetary and fiscal policy is likely to remain on course until around May after the new government steps in and data releases in March and April provide a clearer demand picture."

By then, it might not just be China's economy affecting Chinese monetary policy.

"If there is any movement in interest rates, it will more likely reflect tweaks in reaction to regional central bank movements so that the risk of hot money inflows is curbed," Tan says. "So in other words, a bit less accommodation by the People's Bank of China in 2013 would not surprise us."

At that point, expect Chinese domestic A-shares to fall further. That's not a biggie as just a handful of qualified foreign investors can buy those.

But if the slump extends to Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong, investors would naturally hold or sell.

And if the malaise spread to Wall Street, it would most likely hit companies reliant on China. You might check, for example, share prices of Boeing (BA) and General Motors (GM).
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