* Shanghai stocks up 0.25%, CSI300 index up 0.68%
* Investors watch for possible stimulus package after May
* Investors await rescheduled parliament date
BEIJING/SHANGHAI, April 27 (Reuters) - China shares closed higher on Monday, as the country reported a drop in fresh coronavirus cases and amid hopes for further stimulus to cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic.
** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.25% at 2,815.49, as investors also awaited the rescheduled date for the parliament’s key annual meeting. The index narrowed from early gains of 0.7% by the mid-day break. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.68%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 1.12%, the consumer staples sector up 1.1%, the real estate index up 1.03% and the healthcare sub-index up 1.97%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.06% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was trading higher by 0.745%. ** The top body of China’s parliament kicked off its four-day bi-monthly meeting in the capital city of Beijing on Sunday. China Daily reported the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is expected to decide on the date of the key annual meeting of parliament this year on Wednesday. ** China reported three new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 26, down from 11 a day earlier, with no new deaths, the country’s health authority said on Monday. ** The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global coronavirus pandemic began, now has no remaining cases in its hospitals, a health official told reporters on Sunday.
** Profit earned by China’s industrial firms in March plunged 34.9% to 370.66 billion yuan ($52.36 billion) from last year, reflecting continued pressure on China’s manufacturing sector amid slowing global demand from the coronavirus. ** The market is expecting the government to unveil a stimulus package after the first week of May to further counter the economic hit from the pandemic, said Xiao Shijun, an analyst at Guodu Securities.
** Sentiment also improved on expectations that the rescheduled date for this year’s plenary session of the National People’s Congress is likely to be announced soon, Xiao added.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.81%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 2.71%.
** At 0718 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0796 per U.S. dollar, 0.04% firmer than the previous close of 7.0823.
($1 = 7.0794 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Cheng Leng in Beijing, Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips