SHANGHAI: China shares ended slightly higher on Thursday, as gains in consumer and new energy companies countered losses in healthcare companies, which were hit by worries of a slump in drug prices. The blue-chip CSI300 index gained 0.2% at 5,155.97, while the Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,566.65.
The CSI300 healthcare index led declines, with a 1.7% fall, after price plunges were shown in the results of the fifth national government-backed drug bulk-buy program. The average price cut was 56% among the 251 products for 61 types of medicines included in the list of preliminary bid winners, state news agency Xinhua said in a report. Drugmaker Hengrui, Asymchem Laboratories Tianjin Co Ltd and Bloomage Biotechnology Corp Ltd fell between 4.4% and 5.5%.
Investors need to pay more attention to drugmakers' overall strength given a normalised bulk-buy mechanism, TF Securities said in a report, adding that bigger-than-expected price declines would be a risk for firms going forward.
Helping the market, the CSI300 consumer staples index and the CSI new energy index rose 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively. The A-share resource industries index slipped 0.3% after the news.