* China’s CSI300 +0.49 pct, SSEC +0.14 pct
* Hong Kong’s HSI -0.54 pct
* Little apparent reaction to Premier Li’s press conference
SHANGHAI, March 16 (Reuters) - China stocks edged higher on Wednesday as the country’s annual meeting of parliament ended much as it began, with a stream of assurances by Premier Li Keqiang that the economy was facing difficulties but not in danger of a hard landing.
In a news conference at the end of the meeting, Li said that while downward pressure on the economy persists, there would be no sharp deterioration in activity as long as the government presses ahead with reforms.
Li’s other comments on growth targets, unemployment risks, corporate debt and other topics were also largely reiterations of remarks made by various top officials over the course of the session, which he opened on March 5 warning policymakers to be prepared for “a tough battle ahead”.
With little fresh direction for investors, the CSI300 index rose 0.5 percent to 3,089.91 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent to 2,868.39.
China CSI300 stock index futures for March rose 0.3 percent, to 3,052.6, -37.31 points below the current value of the underlying index.
Finance shares led indexes higher, with major gainers including Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co Ltd and China Minsheng Banking Co Ltd.
Hong Kong stocks fell, on the other hand, in what analysts said might be profit taking as the parliamentary session wrapped up.
“I think the premier’s speech is neutral for the market,” said Linus Yip, Chief Strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.
The Hang Seng index dropped 0.5 percent to 20,179.19 points, while tThe Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.9 percent to 8,529.00.
The index measuring price differences between dual-listed companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong stood at 138.50.
A value above 100 indicates Shanghai shares are pricing at a premium to shares in the same company trading in Hong Kong, and vice versa.
The northbound quota for the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect, currently set at 13 billion yuan ($2 billion), saw net outflows of 0.84 billion yuan.
Total volume of A shares traded in Shanghai was 10.89 billion shares, while Shenzhen volume was 9.57 billion shares.
Total trading volume of companies included in the HSI index was 0.6 billion shares. ($1 = 6.5196 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by Nathaniel Taplin; Editing by Kim Coghill