Central banks around the world, including China's, have shifted decisively into investing in equities as low interest rates have hit their revenues, according to a global study of 400 public sector institutions.

"A cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets," says a report to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (Omfif), a central bank research and advisory group. The trend "could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices", it warns.


Central banks' actions aimed at stimulating economies, including quantitative easing, have deliberately sought to push investors into riskier assets, and share prices have risen sharply since 2009 -- leading to fears of stock market corrections if economic growth disappoints.

China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become "the world's largest public sector holder of equities", according to officials quoted by Omfif. Safe, which manages $3.9tn, is part of the People's Bank of China. "In a new development, it appears that PBoC itself has been directly buying minority equity stakes in important European companies," Omfif adds.

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