* Shanghai Composite Index +0.4%, CSI300 +0.5%
* Big China banks see first-quarter profit growth
* Key annual parliamentary meeting set for May 22
SHANGHAI, April 29 (Reuters) - China shares settled higher on Wednesday after the country’s biggest listed banks posted solid first-quarter profits, and as investors saw signs of lockdown easing, but lingering worries over the coronavirus pandemic capped gains.
** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.44% at 2,822.44. The blue-chip CSI300 index ended 0.46% higher. ** The gains were driven by banking shares after China’s big four lenders reported higher profits for the first quarter despite the impact of the pandemic. ** A CSI sub-index tracking banks jumped 2.38% and the CSI300 financials sub-index added 1.87%. ** Investors were awaiting official manufacturing data due Thursday, with a Reuters poll of economists showing China’s factory activity likely rose for a second straight month in April as more businesses reopened. ** 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. ** But elsewhere in the market performance was mixed amid lingering concerns over the pandemic. The CSI consumer staples sub-index fell 1.73%, the real estate index added 2.13% and the healthcare sub-index lost 1.32%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.1% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was unchanged. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.98%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.06%. ** At 07:17 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0769 per U.S. dollar, 0.05% firmer than the previous close of 7.0804. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Guirenniao Co Ltd, up 10.19%, followed by Nanjing Chixia Development Co Ltd, gaining 10.16%, and CITIC Heavy Industries Co Ltd, up by 10.12%. ** The largest percentage losers in the Shanghai index were Xin Jiang Ready Health Industry Co Ltd, down 10.09%, followed by Shangying Global Co Ltd, losing 10.03%, and Hubei Mailyard Share Co Ltd, down by 10.02%. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 7.5% and the CSI300 has fallen 5.6%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 10.3%. Shanghai stocks have risen 2.62% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)