SHANGHAI, Feb 27 (Reuters) - China stocks firmed on Thursday as the country reported fewer deaths due to coronavirus, while expectations of more stimulus to shore up the economy also underpinned sentiment.
** The economic recovery is accelerating but the coronavirus outbreak situation in the epicentre of Hubei province and its capital Wuhan is still dire, the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo said on Wednesday, according to a state television report.
** The CSI300 index rose 0.8%, to 4,106.19, by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6%, to 3,004.99.
** The central bank has taken steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. It has also said it will provide special funds for banks to lend to businesses. ** China’s policy support could exceed market expectations as the country needs to grow at a faster pace in the second half to achieve a decent full-year growth after the virus outbreak in the first half, according to a Vanho Securities report. ** It’s expected that Beijing will take more proactive countercyclical policies, while the environment of monetary loosening would continue, the brokerage added. ** Mainland China reported 433 new cases of virus infections on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said on Thursday, up from 406 on the previous day. ** The number of new deaths stood at 29, the lowest daily rate since Jan. 28, and down from 52 on the previous day. The outbreak has now killed a total of 2,744 people. ** In Hong Kong, stocks fell amid worries over the coronavirus contagion outside China, tracking wider losses in other Asian markets. ** The United States and South Korea postponed their joint military drills on Thursday to limit the spread of coronavirus, as the number of infections inside China - the source of the outbreak - was for the first time overtaken by fresh cases elsewhere. ** Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first infection and the new disease - COVID-19 - was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.
** China’s CSI300 financial sector sub-index was higher by 0.39%, the consumer staples sector rose 1.76%, the real estate index fell 0.75% and the healthcare sub-index gained 0.86%.
** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 0.19% to 10,481.51, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.66% to 26,519.65.
** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 1.04% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.94%.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.47%, while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 2.09%. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)