China shares end higher on COVID-19 vaccine, economic recovery hopes

Reuters | May 19, 2020 at 7:39 AM

* Shanghai stocks up 0.81%, CSI300 index up 0.85%

* U.S. vaccine trial shows productive results, oil prices surge

* Investors bargain hunting undervalued banking, insurance shares - analyst

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, May 19 (Reuters) - China shares closed firmer on Tuesday, as data from an early-stage trial for a COVID-19 vaccine lifted hopes of a faster recovery from the pandemic-driven economic slump. * At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.81% at 2,898.58.

* The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.85%, with its financial sector sub-index climbing 0.58%, the consumer staples sector up 0.09%, the real estate index down 0.52% and the healthcare sub-index up 0.71%.

* The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 1.26% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index closed 1.38% higher.

* Wall Street rallied overnight after data from Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the United States, showed it produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.

* Oil prices, too, jumped to their highest in over two months, as the easing of global lockdown boosted hopes of economic activity.

* Risk sentiment in A-shares' trading was partially lifted by vaccine hopes as the benchmark index opened higher, Kaiyuan Securities' analyst Tian Weidong said, adding that investors were also bargain hunting for undervalued banking and insurance shares.

* Shanghai-listed information and technology shares posted gains and added to the benchmark's strength, with Sanan Optoelectronics Co surging by the daily limit of 10%.

* Also supporting gains was Beijing's guideline that it will open up more sectors to private firms and reduce direct government interference in microeconomic activities.

* The guideline comes just days before the annual parliament meeting and is set to be a key discussion point among policymakers, according to a note of Everbright Sun Hung Kai.

* China reported six confirmed COVID-19 cases on May 18, including a new case in Wuhan, compared with seven a day earlier.

* Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.89%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 1.49%. * At 0718 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.1064 per U.S. dollar, 0.06% firmer than the previous close of 7.1105.