SHANGHAI: China's blue-chip stocks closed slightly lower on Friday, as investors digested the modest annual growth target set in the premier's annual work report, although tech shares rebounded on a stronger commitment to supporting home-grown technology. The blue-chip CSI300 index ended down 0.3% at 5,262.80, while the Shanghai Composite Index was nearly unchanged at 3,501.99. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang revealed a modest above-6% economic growth target for the country this year in his work report, below analyst consensus, as the economy emerges from a year disrupted by the effects of COVID-19. The low target frees up Beijing to deal with economic issues detrimental to long-term stability, said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. "The speech of Chairman Guo Shuqing of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Tuesday clearly conveyed the government's concern about the risk of bubbles in the current market, and also made it clear that interest rates will rise this year. His speech and today's government work report sent a consistent message," Zhang said. Chinese shares have come under pressure in recent weeks on investor concern around policy tightening. Real estate firms dropped 2.5% after Li said China would stabilise land and house prices and warned against speculation. Tech firms outperformed after the work report said China would increase its annual research and development spending by more than 7% every year over the next five years. The smaller Shenzhen index edged up 0.2%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index rose 0.7 and Shanghai's tech-focused STAR50 index added 0.4%. - Reuters
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