SHANGHAI, April 1 (Reuters) - China stocks closed higher on Thursday, led by consumer and healthcare shares, as investors appeared to shrug off a survey showing weaker-than-expected factory activity growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 1.2% to 5,110.78, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.7%to 3,466.33.
** Leading the gains, the CSI300 consumer discretionary index and the CSI300 healthcare index climbed 2.5% and 2.4%, respectively.
** China’s factory activity in March expanded at the slowest pace in almost a year on softer overall domestic demand, but underlying economic conditions remained positive even as input and output inflationary pressures intensified for manufacturers.
** The findings contrast with those in an official survey, which showed manufacturing activity grew at a stronger pace as large firms ramped up production after a brief lull during the Lunar New Year holidays.
** “Overall, corporate earnings are good and basically in line with market expectations, while China’s latest economic data also proved solid,” Yan Kaiwen, an analyst with China Fortune Securities said.
** “What I worry the most are external risks, in particular the U.S. 10-year treasury yield, which could probably become a focus for investors again when it rises past 2% and weigh on the markets,” he added.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.96%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.72%.
** At 0714 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.5705 per U.S. dollar, 0.29% weaker than the previous close of 6.5518. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Uttaresh.V)