China stocks fall as Beijing COVID concerns weigh

SHANGHAI, May 23 (Reuters) - China stocks fell on Monday as Beijing reported the most number of cases seen during the current COVID-19 outbreak, while profit-taking after two straight weeks of gains also weighed on benchmarks.

** The CSI300 index fell 1.1% to 4,034.00 at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5% to 3,131.85.

** The Hang Seng index dropped 1.9% to 20,317.16. The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 2.2% to 6,966.35.

** “There is some resistance after the Shanghai Composite benchmark rebounded more than 200 points from a recent trough,” said Zhang Yanbing, an analyst with Zheshang Securities.

** Meanwhile, the Chinese capital reported 99 new infections for Sunday, the largest daily tally so far during a month-old outbreak that has steadily seen dozen of new cases a day.

** Real estate developers slumped 3% to lead the decline, tourism firms and liquor makers went down roughly 2% each, while new energy shed 1.5%.

** “There are still some challenges in the market, and more positive fundamental catalysts are needed for further gains,” CICC said in a note.

** Investors should closely monitor fundamentals as China’s COVID situation improves, including the real estate sector and consumer demand, CICC said.

** Chinese regulators said on Friday they will streamline the process of equity and bond issuance by companies hit by the pandemic, and urged brokerages and fund managers to channel more money into virus-hit areas and sectors.

** Broader Asian stocks also came under pressure as persistent worries about inflation and rising interest rates dogged the global economic outlook.

** Tech giants listed in Hong Kong lost more than 3%, with e-commerce giant Alibaba down 4.6% to become the biggest drag of the Hang Seng Index.

** Shares of Orient Overseas and China Hongqiao Group jumped more than 6% each as they will be added to the Hang Seng benchmark. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Uttaresh.V)