April 6, 2020 / 9:00 AM / 2 months ago

Hong Kong stocks hit 3-week high on easing virus fears, policy support

* Hang Seng adds 2.2%, hits March 13 high; H-shares up 1.7%

* Major European countries report fewer COVID-19 deaths

* PBOC frees $56 bln on Fri; Mainland China markets on holiday

HONG KONG, April 6 (Reuters) - Shares in Hong Kong rose to their highest level in more than three weeks on Monday, as countries globally reported fewer new coronavirus deaths, and after the Chinese central bank released $56 billion to cushion the economic fallout from the pandemic.

** The Hang Seng index closed 2.2% higher at 23,749.12, having hit its highest level since March 13 during the session. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.7%.

** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares gained 2.6%, the IT sector added 1.9%, the financial sector ended 1.6% higher and the property sector was up 2.7%.

** Europe’s epicentre Italy reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday. Neighbouring France’s health ministry also said daily death toll and admissions into intensive care slowed.

** U.S. President Donald Trump expressed hope on Sunday that the United States was seeing a “leveling-off” of the coronavirus crisis in some of the nation’s hot spots, as New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on Sunday that for the first time in a week deaths had fallen slightly from the day before.

** Mainland China’s financial markets were closed for the Qingming Festival holiday.

** On Friday, the People’s Bank of China said it was cutting the amount of cash that small banks must hold as reserves, releasing around 400 billion yuan ($56.38 billion) in liquidity to shore up the economy hurt by the coronavirus crisis.

** “We expect the market to bounce back with the gradual implementation of monetary and fiscal policy support, and with the opening of the ‘two sessions’,” analysts at Essence Securities wrote in a note, referring to the Chinese parliament’s annual meeting that has been delayed due to the pandemic.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 2.1%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 4.2%.

** About 1.83 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.87 billion.

** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 25.67% over Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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