SHANGHAI, March 11 (Reuters) - Mainland China stocks jumped on Thursday as better-than-expected February bank lending data lifted market sentiment and relieved some policy tightening worries, while Hong Kong shares gained following an overnight rally on Wall Street.
** Official data showed that new bank lending in China fell less than expected in February from January as the central bank sought to cool credit growth to contain debt risks while maintaining support for ailing small firms.
** “The improvement of credit structure pointed to the robust financial stability, and we reckon that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is in no rush to tighten its monetary policy stance for now,” said Ken Cheung, chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank in Hong Kong.
** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.78% at 3,417.63 points, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 2.13% to 5,024.56.
** By midday, the financial sector sub-index rose 1.9%, the consumer staples sector was up 3.78%, the real estate index climbed 0.81% and the healthcare sub-index gained 3.37%.
** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 1.78%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 2.64% and Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR50 index was up 1.64%.
** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 2.51% to 11,337.54, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index was up 1.6% at 29,371.23.
** Analysts said gains in Hong Kong were tracking surges on Wall Street overnight, as the S&P 500 rose on Wednesday and the blue-chip Dow hit a record high after tepid consumer price data for February calmed inflation worries and Congress gave final approval to one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history.
** Sino-U.S. relations re-emerged as another key market focus as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with top Chinese officials on March 18 in Alaska, the White House said on Wednesday, the first high-level in-person contact between the two sparring countries under the Biden administration.
** Separately, China is considering adjusting the investment threshold for Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR Market to boost liquidity and improve rules for the registration system.
Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Aditya Soni