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SHANGHAI: China stocks closed nearly flat on Thursday after downbeat manufacturing data, with investors calling for more easing measures. Hong Kong stocks rebounded after hitting a one-year low earlier.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 Index edged up 0.2%, and the Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.3% by market close. Hong Kong benchmark Hang Seng Index also edged up 0.3%, after touching its lowest level since November last year.

China’s manufacturing activity contracted for a second straight month in November and at a quicker pace, an official factory survey showed on Thursday.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data disappointed investors who are awaiting a rebound, boosting the case for near-term fiscal and monetary easing, analysts at Citi said. The ongoing economic malaise is reflected in the local stock market, with the key CSI300 Index unable to stage a sustained recovery, said Alvin Tan, head of Asia FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

The CSI300 Index has lost 9.5% so far this year.

Investor sentiment in Chinese financial assets remains highly negative, Tan said.

China President Xi Jinping visited Shanghai and learned about the city’s efforts to strengthen its competitiveness as an international financial centre, state media reported on Wednesday.

Tourism and health care stocks were up 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively.

Tech giants traded in Hong Kong were down 0.3%.

China Evergrande Group was up 11.6%.

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