SHANGHAI, March 22 (Reuters) - China stocks ended higher on Monday, underpinned by banking and infrastructure shares, as the country’s central bank kept its key lending rate for corporate and household loans unchanged.
** The CSI300 index rose 0.7% to 5,042.82 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9% to 3,435.41 points.
** The session’s gains came in after a four-week losing streak as investors pulled out of highly valued sectors amid policy tightening fears.
** Leading the gains, the CSI300 banks index rose 2.3%, while the CSI300 infrastructure index added 3%.
** “Consumer, health care and new energy stocks had witnessed corrections recently, while financial stocks could provide support for the market, helping foster a slow long-term bull run,” Hu Yunlong, a Beijing-based hedge fund manager said.
** “The market is still looking for a direction, which remains unclear for now, as institutional investors continue to adjust their positions,” he added.
** China kept its benchmark lending rate for corporate and household loans unchanged for an 11th straight month at its March fixing on Monday, matching market expectations.
** China’s monetary policy needs to focus on supporting economic growth in a targeted way while also reducing financial risks, the central bank head said.
** Sino-U.S. relations also remained a point of focus for investors.
** U.S. President Joe Biden “will be good for the relationship” between China and the United States, even though both sides might have “started a little on frosty side”, former U.S. Secretary of Defence William Cohen told a Beijing forum.
** China and the United States will set up a joint working group on climate change, China’s official Xinhua news agency said, in a potentially positive takeaway from what was an unusually rancorous high-level meeting. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)