* Global markets rally as U.S. congress closes in on stimulus deal
* Mainland China reports drop in new imported coronavirus cases
HONG KONG, March 25 (Reuters) - China stocks hit a one-week high on Wednesday on hopes that the U.S. Congress would pump trillions of dollars to support the world’s largest economy during the coronavirus pandemic. ** Also helping sentiment, Mainland China reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday as imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.6% at 2,765.12 points, having reached its highest level since March 18 in morning trade. The blue-chip CSI300 index was higher by 2% and also hit its one-week high.
** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index climbed 1.5%, the consumer staples sector gained 1.9%, the real estate index added 1.8% and the healthcare sub-index rallied 3.4%. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 2.1%. The Hang Seng Index also climbed 2.1% to 23,143.24. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 2.1% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index gained 2.5%. ** Senior Democrats and Republicans in the divided U.S. Congress said on Tuesday they were close to a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package to limit the economic damage from coronavirus pandemic.
** Chinese and other Asian stock markets tracked Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded its biggest one-day percentage gain since 1933.
** MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 2.9% and Japan’s Nikkei index jumped 5.5%. ** The number of new infections in China totalled 47 on Tuesday, all of which were from travellers returning home, down from 78 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
** The country appears to be getting back to work. More than one fifth of American companies in China are back to normal operations after widespread disruptions caused by the coronavirus epidemic, a survey showed Wednesday. ** “Overall, retail investors in China are confident in the Chinese stock market,” Toby Wu, senior analyst at eToro, said in a note.
** “As the pandemic continues to ease in China, we expect to see more foreign investment flowing into the market.”
** The yuan was 0.11% softer at 7.07 per U.S. dollar as of 0359 GMT. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 9.3%, while China’s H-share index is down 16%. Shanghai stocks have declined almost 4% this month. ** At midday, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 29.46% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares.
Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel