China shares close up as weak manufacturing surveys spur stimulus hopes

SHANGHAI, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 3:08am EDT

SHANGHAI, April 1 (Reuters) - China shares closed higher on Tuesday as weak manufacturing data fueled investors' hopes of further stimulus measures to shore up economic growth.

The Shanghai Composite Index ended up 0.7 percent at 2047.46 points. The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings closed up 0.8 percent.

On Tuesday, two surveys showed that manufacturing struggled in March, with activity at smaller, private firms contracting for a third month, adding to a run of disappointing data that has sparked speculation of imminent government-led stimulus.

The official purchasing managing index (PMI) edged up to 50.3 in March from 50.2 in February, pointing to slight expansion, but some economists said even that suggested weakness given activity typically picks up more after the Lunar New Year holidays in February.

The Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which focuses more on the private sector, fell to an eight-month low of 48.0 in March. The index has been below the 50 level since January, indicating a contraction this year.

Liquor companies also helped support Chinese indexes on expectations of a rebound in the sector, after losses last week. Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd rose 5.0 percent and Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery Joint-Stock Co Ltd climbed 5.2 percent. (Reporting By Natalie Thomas; Editing by Kim Coghill)