* SSEC 1.1 pct, CSI300 1.4 pct, HSI 0.6 pct
* China new home prices boosted by policy support
* First-quarter GDP data due Wednesday
SHANGHAI, April 16 (Reuters) - China’s equity markets shook off a weak start to trade higher on Tuesday, as stronger March data for new home prices added to hopes that Beijing’s stimulus measures aimed at boosting the economy were having an effect.
** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.11 percent at 3,213.06 points, having earlier dropped as much as 0.76 percent. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 1.35 percent, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 2.26 percent, the consumer staples sector up 1.01 percent, while the real estate index rose 0.19 percent and the healthcare sub-index climbed 0.57 percent. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 1.13 percent to 11,763.53, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.63 percent at 29,999.07. ** Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.6 percent in March, quickening from a 0.5 percent gain in February, according to Reuters calculation of data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday. On an annual basis, home prices rose 10.6 percent in March, the highest since April 2017, and up from a 10.4 percent gain in February. ** Stronger housing prices are seen as adding to hopes for positive economic data on Wednesday, when China is due to release its first-quarter gross domestic product. A Reuters poll showed expectations that China’s first-quarter economic growth likely slowed to its weakest pace in at least 27 years, but stimulus measures are expected to set the stage for a recovery. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.31 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.19 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.21 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index rose 0.25 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.7091 per U.S. dollar, 0.01 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7085. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Guangdong Meiyan Jixiang Hydropower Co Ltd , up 10.11 percent, followed by Geo-Jade Petroleum Corp, gaining 10.06 percent and Liaoning Hongyang Energy Resource Invest Co Ltd, up by 10.06 percent. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Shanghai Zhixin Electric Co Ltd, which fell 9.99 percent, followed by Qingdao Huijintong Power Eouipment Co Ltd , which lost 9.94 percent and Guangzhou Holike Creative Home Co Ltd, which slipped 9.43 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index surged 27.42 percent, while China’s H-share index is up 14.9 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 2.82 percent this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were China Construction Bank Corp, up 2.89 percent, followed by Guangdong Investment Ltd, gaining 2.82 percent and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, up by 2.39 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Great Wall Motor Co Ltd, which dropped 3.04 percent, China Vanke Co Ltd, which lost 1.9 percent and Air China Ltd , down by 1.9 percent. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares rose 0.4 percent while the IT sector rose 0.8 percent. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was China Construction Bank Corp, up 2.89 percent, while the biggest loser was Sunny Optical Technology Group Co Ltd , which was down 3.02 percent.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips