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SHANGHAI: China stocks closed higher on Monday as the country reported zero new local cases of the novel coronavirus and investors cheered Beijing’s latest reform measures for the stock market.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 1.5% to 5,564.56, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 1% to 3,532.45 points.

Leading the gains, the CSI300 materials index jumped 5.3% and the CSI300 healthcare index added 2.4%.

China reported no new locally transmitted mainland COVID-19 cases for the first time in nearly two months, official data showed, adding to signs that it has managed to stamp out the latest wave of the disease.

Lifting investors’ mood, China’s securities regulator said it has given the greenlight to merging the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s main board with the SME board.

“It’s an inevitable choice of the deepening capital market reforms, and would help the capital market better serve the development of small and medium firms via direct financing,” China Securities said in a note.

China’s new bank loans are expected to surge to a record high in January on a seasonal boost, a Reuters poll showed, while credit growth may be constrained by some marginal tightening of monetary policy as the central bank focuses on preventing risks.

Market participants looked past the country’s market regulator releasing new anti-monopoly guidelines on Sunday that targeted internet platforms.

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