April 16, 2019 / 7:31 AM / 3 months ago

China shares hit 13-month closing high as housing prices boost growth hopes

* Shanghai Composite index +2.4 pct; CSI300 +2.8 pct

* CSI financials sub-index up 3.6 pct

* March housing prices add to positive economic data

SHANGHAI, April 16 (Reuters) - Chinese shares powered higher on Tuesday, pushing the benchmark Shanghai Composite index to its highest close in nearly 13 months, as a faster rise in housing prices added to hopes that China’s stimulus policies are translating into stronger growth. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 2.39 percent at 3,253.60. It was the strongest daily gain for the index in more than two weeks, and its highest close since March 22, 2018. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 2.77 percent, its biggest daily rise since March 29. Gains were led by the financial sector sub-index, which rose 3.56 percent. The consumer staples sector ended up 2.45 percent, the real estate index added 2.25 percent and the healthcare sub-index closed 1.87 percent higher. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 2.1 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.84 percent. ** Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.6 percent in March, quickening from a 0.5 percent gain in February, according to Reuters calculation of data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday. On an annual basis, home prices rose 10.6 percent in March, the highest since April 2017, and up from a 10.4 percent gain in February. ** Stronger housing prices are seen as adding to hopes for positive economic data on Wednesday, when China is due to release its first-quarter gross domestic product. A Reuters poll showed expectations that China’s first-quarter economic growth likely slowed to its weakest pace in at least 27 years, but stimulus measures are expected to set the stage for a recovery. ** “March financial data such as social financing, credit and money supply exceeded the market’s expectations and confirmed the clear signs of recovery in the real economy reflected in the PMI,” said Zhang Yanbin, analyst, Zheshang Securities. ** Zhang said the house price data and the resumption of liquidity injections by China’s central bank after an 18-day hiatus were also factors helping to boost the market. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.35 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.24 percent. ** At 0718 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.708 per U.S. dollar, 0.01 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.7085. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Guangdong Meiyan Jixiang Hydropower Co Ltd , up 10.11 percent, followed by Aurora Optoelectronics Co Ltd, gaining 10.08 percent and Geo-Jade Petroleum Corp, up by 10.06 percent. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Qingdao Huijintong Power Eouipment Co Ltd down 9.99 percent, followed by Shanghai Zhixin Electric Co Ltd losing 9.99 percent and Huafa Industrial Co Ltd Zhuhai down by 7.39 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 30.5 percent and the CSI300 has surged 35.7 percent, while China’s H-shares index listed in Hong Kong is up 16.5 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 5.27 percent this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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