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SHANGHAI: China stocks closed higher on Thursday after Premier Li Keqiang vowed to stabilise employment and revive disrupted supply chains, while a further drop in the number of daily COVID-19 cases implied the worst might be over, kindling stimulus hopes.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.7% to 3,921.11, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.6% to 2,975.48.

The Hang Seng index rose 1.7%, to 20,276.17, while the China Enterprises index gained 2.0%, to 6,918.62 points.

Daily new coronavirus caseload dropped for a fifth straight day. Mainland China reported 11,367 new coronavirus cases for Wednesday, down from 14,298 new cases a day earlier.

Traders were closely watching if Beijing can successfully arrest a severe outbreak and avert a Shanghai-like lockdown, as the capital city closed some public spaces and rolled out three rounds of mass testing this week across a number of districts.

To create more jobs, China will promote healthy development of its platform economy, according to a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Li.

China will also tackle bottlenecks in supply chains affected by COVID-19 by easing congestion at ports and airports and restoring delivery services, according to the meeting.

“It’s still too early for policymakers to give up the 5% growth bottom line for this year,” economists at Macquarie Capital said in a note. “Once the current COVID wave is under control, they will likely double down policy supports to make up for the loss from lockdowns.” Real estate developers and banks rose 3.9% and 2.1%, respectively, while liquor makers added 2.8%.

Energy stocks gained 4.9%. Coal miners jumped 6.3%, led by China Coal Energy and Shaanxi Coal Industry Co, with both up roughly 10% on robust Q1 results.

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