April 22, 2019 / 7:27 AM / a month ago

China stocks fall most in nearly 4 weeks on worries Beijing may slow policy easing

* SSEC -1.7 pct, CSI300 -2.3 pct

* China to keep supporting economy as ‘pressure’ lingers - politburo

* Hong Kong closed for holiday

SHANGHAI, April 22 (Reuters) - China stocks fell from a 13-month high on Monday, posting their worst session in nearly four weeks, as comments from top policymaking bodies raised investor fears that Beijing will slow the pace of policy easing after some signs of stabilisation in the world’s second-largest economy.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 2.3 percent, to 4,025.61, while the Shanghai Composite Index skid 1.7 percent to 3,215.04, both logging their biggest single-day drop since March 25.

** China will maintain policy support for the economy, which still faces “downward pressure” and difficulties after better-than-expected first-quarter growth, a top decision-making body of the Communist Party said on Friday.

** But it also said authorities will try to strike a balance between stabilising economic growth, promoting reforms and controlling risks.

** It added that China will push forward structural deleveraging and prevent speculation in the property market, suggesting attention may be turning back to debt risks that any further substantial stimulus measures may create.

** The statement from the politburo came two days after China reported a steady 6.4 percent annual growth in January-March, defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement. While analysts cautioned it was too early to call a turnaround, some market watchers lowered their expectations of further support measures.

** The trend of marginal tightening in China’s monetary policy is quite clear, as the politburo mentioned “structural deleveraging” again and as the central bank drained liquidity via open market operations recently, said Shanxi Securities in report.

** Corrections would happen going forward as the stock market returns to rationality, the brokerage added.

** Investors still need to wait for the best time to buy stocks, as the pace of money flowing into the stock market could slow in the short-term due to Beijing’s counter-cyclical adjustments, CITIC Securities wrote in note.

** Developers led the fall, with the CSI300 real estate index tumbling 5.6 percent, its steepest one-day drop in more than six months.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.24 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.08 percent.

** At 07:07 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.7132 per U.S. dollar, 0.12 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7049.

** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 28.9 percent, while the CSI300 has risen 33.7 percent, and China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 16.2 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 4.02 percent this month. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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