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Mercados

China shares end nearly flat on Bejing's movement curbs to contain fresh virus cases

* SSEC +0.14%, CSI300 +0.08%

* Beijing extends travel curbs, shuts schools

* Healthcare sector gains amid resurgence in virus cases

BEIJING, June 17 (Reuters) - China shares closed little changed on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious due to Beijing’s curbs on travel and movement in some areas to contain a resurgence in the new coronavirus cases in the capital city.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.14% at 2,935.87. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.08%, with its financial sector sub-index lower by 0.27%, the consumer staples sector down 0.07%, the real estate index down 0.51%. ** Pharmaceutical companies gained with the healthcare sub-index up 2.32%. Shanghai Shenqi Pharmaceutical Investment Management Co Ltd led the gains by rising daily limit of 10%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.29% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.155%.

** Scores of flights to and from Beijing were cancelled, schools shut and some neighbourhoods blocked off as officials ramped up efforts to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has fanned fears of wider contagion. ** Health officials reported 31 new confirmed infections in Beijing for June 16, bringing the cumulative infections since Thursday to 137 cases, the worst resurgence of the disease in the city since early February.

** Signs of rising geopolitical tensions also dimmed sentiment as India’s army said on Tuesday 20 of its soldiers had been killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site. ** North Korea rejected South Korea’s offer to send special envoys, and vowed to send back troops to demilitarised border units in the latest step towards nullifying inter-Korean peace accords.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.39%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.56%. ** At 0709 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0888 per U.S. dollar, 0.05% weaker than the previous close of 7.0855.

Reporting by Zhang Yan in Beijing, and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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