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SHANGHAI: China stocks ended higher on Friday, with property developers leading the gains on expectations of more economic stimulus after data showed factory activity slumped at the fastest pace in two years in March.

The blue-chip CSI300 Index rose 1.3% to 4,276.16, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.9% to 3,282.72.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.2% to 22,039.55, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.2% to 7,537.16.

For the week, the CSI300 Index added 2.4%, the biggest weekly gain so far this year, while the Hang Seng Index was up nearly 3%.

** The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which focuses more on small firms in coastal regions, fell to 48.1 in March, broadly in line with the official PMI released on Thursday, as the domestic COVID-19 resurgence and the economic fallout from the Ukraine war weighed.

China stocks fall as factory, services activities contract amid COVID outbreaks

** China’s commercial hub of Shanghai grounded to a halt on Friday after the government locked down most of the city’s 26 million residents to stop the spread of COVID, even as official numbers showed cases falling for the second day in a row.

** To some extent, negative headlines were priced in during the first quarter, said Yang Delong, chief economist at Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund Management Co, adding he expected a potential rebound in the second quarter.

** China’s CSI300 Index tumbled 14.5% in the first three months of the year, marking its worst quarter since 2015.

** Government officials have vowed to roll out policies to stabilise the economy, while analysts say the possibility of the central bank cutting reserve requirement ratios in April has risen as economic headwinds intensify.

** Real estate developers surged 4.6%, financials firms gained 1.9%, and consumer staples added 1.6%.

** Tourism and transportation stocks jumped 4.5% and 5.3%, respectively, ahead of the Tomb Sweeping Festival holidays.

** Shipping and port firms surged, with Shanghai International Port Group jumping 10% after it forecast a 75.6% rise in first-quarter net profit.

** Tech firms listed in Hong Kong dropped 0.7% as concerns over US delisting lingered.

** Search engine giant Baidu Inc, which was newly added to the list of stocks facing delisting in the United States on Wednesday, closed down 4.5%, while e-commerce giant Alibaba Group ended lower 2.1%.

** China’s securities regulator said on Thursday both China and the United States have a willingness to solve their audit disputes, and the outcome depends on the wisdom of both parties.

** Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, said there appears to be irreconcilable difference between the US and Chinese regulators and it would be hard for them to reach an agreement.

** The Hong Kong stock exchange suspended from trade on Friday the shares of Chinese developers such as Sunac China , Shimao Group and Kaisa Group, and about 30 other firms for a delay in declaring annual results.

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