China stocks steadied on Thursday morning after a four-day losing streak, with investors continuing to rush for cover in defensive sectors such as consumer and healthcare while fleeing from small-caps. Hong Kong shares also rebounded slightly, but energy shares were down on lower oil prices. Investors remained circumspect ahead of the French presidential elections due at the weekend.
China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3 percent, to 3,457.05 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 percent, to 3,168.53 points.
The market, concerned that economic recovery is fading, drew some solace from Beijing’s pledge to implement more fiscal and monetary-policy support to address the potential rise in the country’s jobless rate.
Zhangtai Securities warned in its latest strategy report that market will remain volatile amid increasingly tighter regulatory and monetary environment.
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Underscoring reduced risk appetite, investors rushed into sectors that promise stable returns and generous dividend payouts, pushing both consumer and healthcare indexes up over 2 percent, while an index tracking liquor makers jumped nearly 4 percent.
In the spotlight are investor darlings Gree Electric and Kweichow Moutai, both rising to historic heights amid increasingly crowded trades. In contrast, small-caps continued to underperform blue-chips, with the start-up board ChiNext ending the morning in the negative territory.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent, to 23,921.39 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.1 percent, to 9,989.97. Investors risk appetite remain curbed by tensions around North Korea, as well as the upcoming French presidential election.
The energy sector dropped 0.8 percent in Hong Kong, and 1.2 percent in China, after oil prices tumbled overnight.
(Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Eric Meijer)