May 20, 2020 / 7:43 AM / 11 days ago

China shares end lower as cautious investors await govt steps from political meetings

* Shanghai stocks down 0.51%, CSI300 index down 0.53%

* China to hold key political meetings from Thursday

* New energy vehicle sector gains on more govt incentive hopes

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, May 20 (Reuters) - China shares closed down on Wednesday as cautious investors held back waiting to hear the government’s economic plans to be made during the country’s annual political meetings.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.51% at 2,883.74. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.53%, with its financial sector sub-index lower by 0.04%, the consumer staples sector down 0.57%, the real estate index down 1.21% and the healthcare sub-index down 1.18%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.97% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 1.213%.

** While China’s parliament’s will begin a key annual session on Friday, its advisory body — The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — will start its session a day earlier.

** The sentiment is weak before these meetings as investors await clearer signs of government measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Western Securities’ analyst Cao Xuefeng said.

** The new energy vehicle sector bucked the trend, rising 2.3%, on expectations of more government incentives after Shanghai’s plan to give 4,000 yuan each to buyers for purchasing vehicles with lower emission.

** China reported six confirmed coronavirus cases for May 18, including a new case in Wuhan, the health authority said on Tuesday, compared to seven a day earlier.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.08%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.79%. ** At 07:05 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.1038 per U.S. dollar, 0.05% weaker than the previous close of 7.1.

Reporting by Zhang Yan in Beijing and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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