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China: Stocks end the day flat

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[SHANGHAI] China stocks ended little changed on Wednesday as investors remained cautious ahead of an expected US interest rate hike later in the day.

Traders said there were few surprises from Premier Li Keqiang's news conference at the end of the annual meeting of China's parliament.

Mr Li offered reassurances about China's economy, saying forecasts of a hard landing should stop. While acknowledging the economy faces internal and external risks, he said the country has many policy tools to cope with them.

He also stressed that Beijing does not want to see a trade war with the United States and urged talks between both sides to achieve common ground.

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The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.2 per cent, to 3,463.64 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 per cent to 3,241.76 points.

The indexes have been trapped in a narrow range over the past month, with investors conflicted by signs of economic strength and lingering doubts over whether the recovery, bolstered mainly by government stimulus, is sustainable. "China's economy had a pretty good performance in January and February. March data will be crucial as investors are anxious for any hint on whether the recovery is sustainable,"said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd.

Sector performance was mixed. Gains were led by infrastructure and material shares, which gained support from the continued strength of commodities, while financial plays lost ground.

Start-up board index ChiNext steadied, as index heavyweight Leshi Internet reversed earlier losses to end up 6 per cent after plumbing a more than 18-month low, posting its best day in two months.