Chinese shares little changed ahead of latest trade talks outcome
Chinese shares were little changed on Thursday, though blue-chips gained, as doubts about sustainability of strong exports data countered optimism surrounding the Sino-U.S. trade talks. The Shanghai Composite index cut losses to settle almost 0.1 percent lower at 2,719.70 points. The blue-chip CSI300 index gained 0.2 percent. CSI300's financial sector sub-index fell 0.4 percent, the consumer staples sector rose 1.3 percent, while energy shares lost 0.3 percent. China's exports unexpectedly returned to growth in January after a shock decline the previous month, while imports fell much less than expected.
But seasonal factors played a big role and there could be renewed trade weakness ahead, said analysts. U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides do not reach a deal by March 1. U.S. President Donald Trump suggested this week that the deadline might be moved. On Thursday. A Bloomberg report on Thursday claimed that Trump is considering a 60-day extension to that deadline. The report came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin kicked off high-level trade talks on Thursday, which will wrap up a day later. Discussions among lower-ranking officials started on Monday.
If trade talks go well, "the only remaining negative factor is the (Chinese) economy slipping," but that risk should be limited as the Chinese government will likely roll out new policies "to ensure economic growth stops falling and rebounds," analysts at Essence International wrote in a note on Thursday. China is considering measures to drive adjustments in financial institutions' lending rates for companies to improve credit flow into the economy, China Daily, a state newspaper, cited a central bank official as saying on Thursday. The smaller Shenzhen index ended 0.7 percent higher and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index climbed 0.3 percent. Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was nearly flat. Japan's Nikkei index ended little changed.
The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Sichuan Em Technology Co Ltd, Henan Ancai Hi-tech Co Ltd, and Shanghai Sanmao Enterprise Group Co Ltd, all up by 10.1 percent. So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 9.1 percent and the CSI300 has risen 13 percent. About 19.70 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 24.38 billion. The Shanghai stock index is above its 50-day moving average and below its 200-day moving average.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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