China stocks end lower amid coronavirus fears, policy hopes limit losses

SHANGHAI, April 1 (Reuters) - China stocks finished the first session of the second quarter lower on Wednesday, in line with broader Asia, though losses were capped by hopes Beijing would unveil more measures to bolster the economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.57% at 2,734.52.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.3%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.04%, the consumer staples sector down 0.93%, the real estate index up 1.12% and the healthcare sub-index down 1.51%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.35% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.38%.

** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.12%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed down 4.5%, as the pandemic rattles the underpinnings of the global economy.

** Losses on the mainland were relatively limited due to hopes for further stimulus to help shore up the world's second-largest economy.

** China will step up fiscal and monetary policy adjustments to combat the impact of the virus outbreak, state media reported on Tuesday, quoting a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

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** Fresh measures by Beijing on infrastructure funding, targeted credit for SMEs, and EV subsidies echoed the view that the Politburo meeting on Friday has given a green light to more policy responses, both fiscal firepower and monetary policy tools, analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a report.

** China's factory activity improved in March after plunging a month earlier, a private survey showed, but the bare minimal growth highlighted the intense pressure facing businesses as the pandemic shuts down many countries.

** Chinese health authorities began reporting on asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus as part of an effort to allay public fears that people could be spreading the virus without knowing they are infected with it.

** At 07:13 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0981 per U.S. dollar, 0.24% weaker than the previous close of 7.081.

** As of 07:14 GMT, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 27.07% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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