SHANGHAI: China stocks fell on Wednesday as risk appetite took a hit after Premier Li Keqiang warned of economic downward pressure while new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases spiked to a near three-month high, lifting the prospect of fresh curbs in Beijing.
** At the midday break, the blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.39% at 4,820.96 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.38% to 3,492.46 points.
** The smaller Shenzhen index dipped 0.23%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.71% and Shanghai's tech-focused STAR50 index was down 0.93%.
** Premier Li was quoted by state media on Tuesday evening saying that China's economy faces new downward pressures, but that policymakers would keep economic operations within a reasonable range and take measures to support industrial sectors.
** "The resurgence of virus spread and worsening supply constraints are dampening China growth outlook," Ken Cheung, the chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank in Hong Kong said, noting that China's strict virus containment approach would weigh heavy on consumption and discourage travel across the country.
** Activity in China's services sector expanded at a faster pace in October, although growing inflationary risks weighed on business confidence for the year ahead, a private survey showed on Wednesday.
** In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was down 1% at 24,857.01 points by the end of the morning session, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.7% to 8,798.96.
** Market analysts and traders said investors were also anxiously awaiting the outcome of US Federal Reserve's policy meeting due later in the day, where the US central bank was likely to announce winding down of pandemic-era monetary stimulus.