April 29, 2020 / 4:43 AM / a month ago

Solid bank profits lift China shares as investors eye easing of lockdowns

* SSEC +0.5%, CSI300 +0.4%, HSI +0.3%

* China’s big banks report higher Q1 profits, lifting financials

* China schedules annual parliamentary meeting for May 22

SHANGHAI, April 29 (Reuters) - China shares rose on Wednesday after top banks posted solid first-quarter profits, and as investors continue to look forward to an easing of lockdowns imposed to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.46% at 2,823.09. The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.44%. ** China’s biggest banks reported higher profits in the first quarter despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, though net interest margins shrank. ** A CSI sub-index tracking banks outpaced the broader market’s gains, jumping 2.1%, and the CSI300 financials sub-index added 1.71%. ** The consumer staples sub-index fell 1.82%, the real estate index added 1.8% and the healthcare sub-index lost 0.77%. ** Investors are looking ahead to official manufacturing data due on Thursday, with a Reuters poll of economists showing China’s factory activity likely rose for a second straight month in April as more businesses re-opened. ** Adding to signals that Beijing sees the country returning to normal, China said its parliament would open a key annual session, initially scheduled for March 5, on May 22. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.7% to 10,053.08, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.27% at 24,641.17. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares rose 1.7% as oil prices rebounded. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was PetroChina Co Ltd, up 3.27%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.12% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.11%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.95%, while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.06%. ** The yuan was quoted at 7.0762 per U.S. dollar, 0.06% firmer than the previous close of 7.0804. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 7.87%, while China’s H-share index is down 10.6%. Shanghai stocks have risen 2.17% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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