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China: Stocks end the week higher

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[SHANGHAI] China's main stock indexes were little changed on Friday but ended the week higher, with Shanghai shares snapping a five-week losing streak, as soothing regulatory comments and the central bank's injection offset worries over tighter regulations and economic growth.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.2 per cent, to 3,403.85 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index ended flat at 3,090.63 points.

For the week, CSI300 was up 0.5 per cent, while SSEC added 0.2 per cent.

Over the weekend, Premier Li Keqiang said China would strike a balance between financial stability, gradual deleveraging, and steady economic growth, noting the government was capable of maintaining stability in the financial markets.

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The market had posted five consecutive weeks of declines on concerns over Beijing's stepped-up campaign against shadow banking and that efforts to de-leverage could sap liquidity and hurt the economy.

In an apparent effort to settle market nerves, China's banking regulator said risks in the banking sector were completely controllable, and the market did not have to be nervous of scrutiny.

On Tuesday, China's central bank injected a net US$24.67 billion into money market through open market operations - the most in nearly four months - to offset liquidity stress caused by corporate tax payments and maturing repos, indicating Beijing's intention to maintain market stability amid widespread concerns over policy tightening.

However, according to most analysts Reuters spoke to, market sentiment remains fragile and investors are expected to be cautious, with some saying de-leveraging remains the direction of Beijing's policy despite soothing regulatory rhetoric.

Investors are also worried that China's economy could witness renewed slowdown as a recovery - triggered mainly by government stimulus - peters out, said Yang Hai, strategist at Kaiyuan Securities Indeed, an official survey published this week showed Chinese stock investors' confidence fell for a second straight month in April, to the lowest in seven months, dented by economic concerns.

For the week, consumer stocks outperformed among main sectors, with the index tracking those stocks rallying 4.7 per cent in its best week in 10 months, while banking stocks dragged the most.