April 23, 2020 / 7:35 AM / a month ago

China stocks drift lower as coronavirus fallout mounts

* Shanghai shares fall 0.2%, blue-chips down 0.3%

* China on slow recovery, recession risks weigh - poll

* Big state-banks halt oil product amid market turmoil

HONG KONG, April 23 (Reuters) - Chinese stocks ended weaker on Thursday, as mounting economic uncertainty sparked by the coronavirus pandemic kept share prices under pressure, stopping investors from chasing the rebound from the previous session.

** The Shanghai Composite index closed 0.2% lower at 2,838.50. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index ended down 0.3%, with its financial sector sub-index down 0.3%, the consumer staples sector up 0.3%, the real estate index and healthcare shares flat. ** The smaller Shenzhen index lost 0.5% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.7%. ** The Chinese economy will slowly recover from its first quarterly contraction since current records began, economists predicted in a Reuters poll, but they warned of a likely recession if conditions worsen again from the global coronavirus pandemic.

** The poll found China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to grow just 1.3% in the current quarter from a year earlier, after contracting 6.8% in January-March.

** Bank of China said it suspended transactions to open new positions for its crude oil futures trading product from Wednesday amid “current market and delivery risks”. Bank of Communications also said it had suspended open positions for crude oil trading products from Thursday.

** CSI’s China Mainland Banks index fell 0.4%, less than sectors such as telecoms. While such products’ potential losses are large, it is unclear if the banks or their clients will end up footing the bill, said Steven Leung, executive director for institutional sales at brokerage UOB Kay Hian. ** The A-shares market lost a bit of steam after rebounding in the previous session, analysts at China Fortunes Securities wrote in a note, pointing to technical resistance above the 2,850 level for the Shanghai Composite Index.

** The previous session’s bounce “implies that the (Shanghai) index’s short-term advantage has disappeared. Observing trading in the past few weeks, investors mostly dared to buy into the bottom, but lacked enthusiasm in chasing the rally,” the analysts said.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 1.5%, as oil prices recovered and the United States pledged more public spending. ** At 0705 GMT, the yuan was 0.18% firmer at 7.0707 per U.S. dollar. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 6.9% and the CSI300 lost 6.5%. Shanghai stocks gained 3.2% so far this month. ** About 24.88 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 21.73 billion. (Reporting by Noah Sin, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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