SHANGHAI, March 11 (Reuters) - China stocks ended lower on Wednesday, though losses were contained as worries over the coronavirus outbreak in the country ebbed after President Xi Jinping’s visit to Wuhan, and as investors expect Beijing’s stimulus to underpin its economy.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.3%, to 4,028.43, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.9% to 2,968.52 points, after trading in positive territory in early morning.
** The reversal in the afternoon session came as other Asian shares and Wall Street futures fell as growing scepticism about Washington’s stimulus package to fight the coronavirus outbreak knocked the steam out of an earlier rally.
** For the day, foreign investors sold a net 5.4 billion yuan ($776.71 million) worth of A-shares via the Stock Connect linking mainland and Hong Kong, as appetite for risky assets hurt.
** Though the A-share market has been firmer amid signs Beijing’s virus control measures are working. The benchmark Shanghai index is down 2.7% so far this year, while the S&P 500 index has shed 10.8%.
** The decoupling between Chinese and U.S. equities markets is accelerating, as China is faring better than the United States in terms of virus outbreak control, economic growth and policy room, Guotai Junan Securities wrote in its report, referring to the recent relative strength in China’s stock market.
** The cost-performance of A-shares is far better than their U.S. peers, as the risk appetite is steadily rising in China, while substantially declining on the Wall Street where policy tools have limited impact and where certain risk of crowded trade exists, the brokerage added.
** More places in China lowered emergency response levels to the coronavirus epidemic and relaxed travel restrictions a day after President Xi Jinping visited the epicentre of the outbreak, signalling authorities were turning the tide.
** Analysts argued policy tools for infrastructure and real estate could be used as Beijing aims to guarantee a decent full-year economic goal in 2020 given the virus shock.
** China’s state planner said on Wednesday it had approved an airport expansion project in the northwestern Qinghai province, with a total investment of 10.51 billion yuan ($1.51 billion).
** Chinese policymakers have implemented a raft of measures to support an economy jolted by the coronavirus that is expected to have a devastating impact on first-quarter growth.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.23%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 2.27%.
** At 07:12 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.953 per U.S. dollar, 0.04% firmer than the previous close of 6.9558. ($1 = 6.9524 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith)