** 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.
** At the close, the benchmark Shanghai Composite index was up 2.36% at 3,436.83, posting its best day since Oct. 12, 2020. The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 2.49% to 5,128.22, recording its best session in nearly two months.
** The financial sector sub-index was higher by 2.67%, the consumer staples sector rose 3.45%, the real estate index edged up 1.17% and the healthcare sub-index jumped 2.72%.
** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 2.17% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 2.61%.
** Morgan Stanley analysts said Chinese equities appeared to be more resilient than their major emerging market peers in a global rising yield environment.
** Onshore A-share market has shown more resilience historically both as yield was rising and stayed above trend, which supported their preference for A-shares, they said in a note.
** Sino-U.S. relations re-emerged as another key focus, with some market hopes for de-escalation in the ties between the world’s two largest economies.
** Chinese diplomats will meet with U.S. officials in Alaska on March 18 and 19, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday. Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Aditya Soni