* CSI300 +0.4 pct, SSEC +0.5 pct, Hong Kong closed
* Industrial shares outperform after Jan-Feb profits rise 4.8 pct
SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - China stocks were firmer on Monday helped by data over the weekend showing industrial profits returned to growth in the first two months of the year despite a slowing economy, lifting manufacturing shares.
January and February profits at Chinese industrial firms rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier, compared with a fall of 4.7 percent in December, which was the seven month of decline.
The statistics bureau always gives a combined profit figure for the first two months of each year to smooth out seasonal distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday.
Manufacturing shares were broadly higher, with food and beverage, machinery, and medicine manufacturers leading indices up.
Analysts said the strong industrial numbers might represent pent-up demand from late 2015 as concerns over the yuan and monetary policy recede, a bullish signal for China’s struggling factory sector.
“A 50 percent rise in sales revenue stands out,” wrote Tim Condon, Chief Asia Economist at ING Bank in Singapore, in a research note on Monday following the data release on Sunday.
“We believe steadier (People’s Bank of China) policy since the second week of January released the pent-up demand.”
The CSI300 index rose 0.4 percent, to 3,211.12 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5 percent, to 2,993.72 points.
China CSI300 stock index futures for April rose 0.7 percent, to 3,179.8, 31.32 points below the current value of the underlying index.
Markets will next be turning their focus to upcoming earnings from lenders such as China Construction Bank.
The Hong Kong stock market remains closed for the long Easter break. On Thursday, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.3 percent, to 20,345.61 points and the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.9 percent, to 8,701.13.
Total volume of A shares traded in Shanghai was 10.81 billion shares, while Shenzhen volume was 13.35 billion shares.
Reporting by Nathaniel Taplin; Editing by Jacqueline Wong