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Chinese stocks advance to 4-week high

[HONG KONG] Chinese stocks rose, sending the benchmark index to its highest level in four weeks, as industrial and financial companies rallied n speculation the government will do more to cushion the economic slowdown.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.2 per cent to 3,298.36 at the close, the highest since Jan 28 and erasing a 0.8 per cent loss. Premier Li Keqiang called for more active fiscal policy, while a central bank publication said additional monetary easing is needed. The National People's Congress convenes its annual meeting in the first two weeks of March, when the government sets its growth target for the year.

"There's chatter about more stimulus," said Yen Chiu, a Hong Kong-based trader at Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co. "China is a policy-driven market. A shares are finally waking up after the Lunar New Year holidays." Mainland Chinese markets were closed from Feb . 18 through Tuesday for holidays. The Shanghai Composite dropped 0.6 per cent Wednesday.

The CSI 300 Index added 2.5 per cent on Thursday, the most in a month. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.4 per cent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index gained 1.2 per cent.