March 11, 2020 / 4:38 AM / 21 days ago

China stocks hold steady on cooling virus worries, policy hopes; Hong Kong flat

* SSEC 0.3%, CSI300 -0.1%, HSI 0.0%

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used 1.5%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 5.2%

* FTSE China A50 -0.1%

SHANGHAI, March 11 (Reuters) - China stocks held steady on Wednesday, 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 CSI300 index fell 0.1% to 4,080.72 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,006.50 points.

** So far this year, the benchmark Shanghai index was down 1.4%, while the S&P500 index shed 10.8%.

** The decoupling between Chinese and U.S. equities markets is accelerating, as China is faring better than the U.S. in terms of virus outbreak control, economic growth and policy room, Guotai Junan Securities noted 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.

** China reported an uptick in new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, reversing four straight days of fewer new cases, driven by infected individuals arriving from abroad.

** However, President Xi’s first visit to Wuhan, since the outbreak forced a lockdown of the city, boosted optimism that efforts by authorities to control the virus are working.

** 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 has 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 a coronavirus outbreak that is expected to have a devastating impact on first-quarter growth.

** In Hong Kong, stocks were roughly flat.

** The Hang Seng index was unchanged at 25,402.40 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index was unchanged at 10,151.26.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.22% while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 1.43%.

** The yuan was quoted at 6.9511 per U.S. dollar, 0.07% firmer than the previous close of 6.9558.

** As of 04:00 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 30.20% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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