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SHANGHAI: China shares end slightly lower on Monday with losses in the consumer sector offseting gains in property firms as increasing local coronavirus infections weighed on sentiment ahead of the New Year holiday. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.06% at 3,615.97 and the blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.04%.

The consumer staples sector slumped 1.3%, while the real-estate index was up 0.57% and the healthcare subindex gained 0.68%.

China’s local symptomatic coronavirus cases crept up again, after it reported the highest daily rise in local infections in 21 months over the weekend, with most new infections reported in the northwestern city of Xian as it entered a fifth day of a lockdown.

China’s statistics bureau said on Monday that profits at the country’s industrial firms grew at a slower pace in November.

China’s central bank said it will safeguard the legal rights of home buyers and better satisfy their reasonable living needs, while the nation’s top real estate regulator vowed to resolutely tackle risks stemming from overdue delivery of residential properties by some top developers.

The smaller Shenzhen index ended unchanged for the day and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.1%. Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.04%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.37%. At 07:06 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.3714 per US dollar, 0.07% weaker than the previous close of 6.3672.

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