Pedestrians walk past the People's Bank of China (PBOC) headquarters in Beijing, China. Chinese small-cap stocks rallied after Premier Li Keqiang failed to mention a planned shift to a more market-based system for initial public offerings, a reform seen luring funds from existing equities. Image Credit: Bloomberg

SHANGHAI: China shares ended higher on Tuesday, lifted by healthcare stocks as global hopes for a coronavirus vaccine firmed, but profit-taking following the previous session's rally checked gains.

At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.2% at 3,320.89, after flirting with small losses in the afternoon session. The index jumped 3.1% a day earlier.

The blue-chip CSI300 index added 0.23% with the healthcare sub-index soaring 3.95%, on rising global hopes for coronavirus vaccines following promising studies.

The smaller Shenzhen index gained 0.72% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was 1.45% higher.

Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.89%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 0.73%.

At 0701 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.9911 per U.S. dollar, 0.01% firmer than the previous close of 6.9915.

The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Jiangsu Highhope International Group Corp , up 10.12%, followed by BEH-Property Co Ltd , gaining 10.12% and Ningxia Xinri Hengli Steel Wire Rope Co Ltd, up by 10.08%.

The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were of Xinjiang Youhao Group Co Ltd down 10.06%, followed by Xishui Strong Year Co Ltd Inner Mongolia and Luyin Investment Group Co Ltd, both down 9.97% each.

So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 8.9% and the CSI300 has risen 14.5%, while China's H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 6.7%. Shanghai stocks have risen 11.26% this month.

As of 0702 GMT, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 32.79% over Hong Kong-listed H-shares.

So far this week, the market capitalisation of the Shanghai stock index has risen by 3.20% to 38.00 trillion yuan ($5.44 trillion).