SHANGHAI, March 23 (Reuters) - China stocks on Monday closed at their lowest in more than a year as worldwide lockdowns and travel curbs to counter the coronavirus pandemic stoked fears of a global recession.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 3.4% to 3,530.31, its lowest since Feb. 22, 2019, while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 3.1% to 2,660.17, the weakest since Feb. 11, 2019.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index dropped 5.2% as restrictions across the world to stem the spread of the virus threatened to overwhelm frantic policy efforts to prevent a slowdown.
** However, losses on the mainland were relatively limited as Beijing signalled further support for its markets and as new cases dropped in the country.
** A Chinese central bank official said on Sunday Beijing’s recent policy measures were gaining traction, while it had capacity for further action.
** The PBOC has already rolled out a raft of measures to counter the economic blow from the outbreak, including cutting lending rates and banks’ reserve ratios, and doling out cheap loans for selected firms.
** Zhou Liang, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said China is ready to buffer financial risks caused by the pandemic, and is studying plans to reform the country’s asset management companies that are tasked to deal with bad loans.
** Mainland China saw a drop in its daily tally of new coronavirus cases, reversing four straight days of gains, as the capital Beijing ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.
** At 07:27 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.1119 per U.S. dollar, 0.21% weaker than the previous close of 7.097. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Devika Syamnath)