China stocks rise as banks, infrastructure firms lend support

* SSEC 0.9%, CSI300 0.7%, HSI -0.2%

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used 3.8%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 0.9%

* FTSE China A50 +0.5%

SHANGHAI, March 22 (Reuters) - China stocks climbed on Monday, underpinned by gains in the banking and infrastructure sectors after the country’s central bank kept a key lending rate unchanged.

** The CSI300 index rose 0.7% to 5,042.82 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.9% to 3,435.41 points.

** Leading the gains, the CSI300 banks index rose 2.1%, while the CSI300 infrastructure index added 2.6%.

** “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,” said Hu Yunlong, chief investment officer at Beijing Kaixing Asset Management Company

** “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 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.

** In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.2% to 28,939.53 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.4% to 11,331.77 points. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Devika Syamnath)