China stocks fall on modest growth target; HK shares rise slightly

(Updates to market close)

SHANGHAI, March 6 (Reuters) -

China stocks fell on Monday after Beijing set a modest economic growth target of 5% for 2023, undercutting expectations of big stimulus, while Hong Kong shares rose slightly.

China’s blue-chip CSI 300 closed down 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.2%, and the China Enterprises Index was little changed.

China set a modest target for economic growth this year of around 5% on Sunday, as it kicked off the annual session of its National People’s Congress (NPC), which is poised to implement the biggest government shake-up in a decade.

“As market expectations on the GDP growth target were rising in the run-up to the NPC session, so markets may be slightly disappointed,” Nomura economists said in a note, adding they “see no sign of a massive stimulus programme.”

Tao Wang, head of China economic research at UBS Investment Bank, said there was “no surprise” from the NPC.

“While the government emphasized the importance of reviving consumption, no nationwide consumption stimulus or income subsidy was announced,” Wang wrote.

Investors may find more clues on the economic leadership’s focus in 2023 from the announcement of the new government leadership team and a press conference next week, Goldman Sachs said in a note.

Sector performances were mixed, with Chinese property developers falling after China warned in Sunday’s NPC report that risks remain in the property market.

The CSI Defence index gained 1.2% after China said it will


defence spending by 7.2% this year.

The CSI Telecom index rose 1.2%, while the Coal index and Energy index dropped 2.4% and 1.3%, respectively.

A similar trend was also seen in the Hong Kong market, with the Hang Seng Telecom index up 3.0%, while shares of mainland properties down 0.7%.

Tech giants in Hong Kong declined 0.8%, with Tencent down 1.3% and Alibaba losing 0.9%. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Eileen Soreng)