SHANGHAI: China stocks ended higher on Tuesday after the central bank cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve, while investors cautiously watched if Evergrande would default as the world's most indebted developer inches closer to a debt restructuring.
The blue-chip CSI300 index closed 0.6% firmer at 4,922.10, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 3,595.09 points.
Hong Kong shares rebounded from a 14-month low to close higher. The Hang Seng index rose 2.7% to 23,983.66, while the China Enterprises Index closed up 3.1% at 8,527.12 points.
Risk appetite got a lift after the People's Bank of China cut banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) on Monday, its second such move this year, freeing up 1.2 trillion yuan ($188 billion) in long-term liquidity to bolster slowing economic growth.
"The RRR cut is likely to boost investment sentiment and support valuation in the stock market," said Chaoping Zhu, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
"However, investors should also bear in mind that the long-term reform goals, such as common prosperity, deleveraging and decarbonisation, remain on the table and may continue to weigh on the investment landscape in China," Zhu said.
On property policies, a Politburo meeting memo on Monday dropped their previous stance of "housing is for living, not for speculation," and said it would support the private housing market to better meet reasonable needs.
Nomura analysts said investors should avoid over-interpreting the memo, but added that it could be a positive piece of news as it might correct many of these market-distorting curbs.
Shares of China Evergrande Group jumped as much as 8.3% earlier in the session and closed up 1.1%, lifted by state involvement and the prospect of a managed debt restructuring.
Some offshore bondholders of China Evergrande Group , however, did not receive coupon payments by the end of a 30-day grace period, pushing the cash-strapped property developer closer to formal default.
A failure to make $82.5 million in interest payments that were due last month would trigger cross-default on the firm's roughly $19 billion of international bonds and put the developer at risk of becoming China's biggest-ever defaulter.
The PBOC will also cut the rates on its relending facility by 25 basis points to support the rural sector and small firms, the state-run Securities Times reported on Tuesday. But the chance of a cut in the benchmark lending rate remains low in the near term, due to elevated PPI inflation and broadening CPI inflation, according to Nomura analysts.
In mainland markets, real-estate developers gained 1.5% and financials firms rose 0.9%, while tourism stocks jumped 2.5%.
However, semiconductor firms and new-energy shares retreated 2.6% and 1.8%, respectively, as analysts said some investors were locking in profit on their high valuations. The chip sector gained nearly 30% so far this year, while new-energy sub-index climbed more than 50%.
In Hong Kong, tech giants rebounded 4.2%, tracking gains in Wall Street, after the sector tumbled on ride-hailing giant Didi's delisting from New York.
E-commerce giant Alibaba Group bounced from its record low to soar 12.2%, while Tencent Holdings and Meituan added 3.6% and 5.8%, respectively.
The jump in Alibaba, a heavweight in the China Enterprises Index, helped the benchmark rise the most in two months. - Reuters