October 25, 2018 / 8:29 AM / 22 days ago

China blue chips buck global rout to end higher; Hong Kong down

* Blue-chip CSI300 +0.2 pct, SSEC flat; both down in the morning

* Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index falls 1.0 pct

* Government support measures seen aiding sentiment

* Chinese investors have ‘a thread of hope’ - analyst (Updates with Hong Kong close, yuan milestone)

SHANGHAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - China’s main onshore stock market indexes clawed back from midday losses for a second day of weak gains on Thursday, but shares in Hong Kong ended lower despite a late rally, joining regional bourses battered in the wake of Wall Street’s rout.

At the close of trade, China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.2 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index eked out a 0.02 percent gain to 2,603.80 points.

Analysts said it appeared that a string of recently-announced government measures to boost confidence in Chinese share markets was a factor in Thursday’s change of course.

The smaller Shenzhen index, however, ended down 0.3 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index declined 0.8 percent.

“We’ve been in a correction for eight or nine months that has left some boards and sectors at multi-year lows,” said Xiao Shijun, an analyst at Guodu Securities in Beijing.

He said government messages of support and measures to reduce market risk, including of share pledges, had helped to somewhat improve sentiment.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended 1 percent lower, paring earlier losses. H-shares finished down 0.49 percent, having earlier fallen as much as 2.6 percent.

The Hang Seng has lost more than 10 percent this month, putting it on track for a record-matching sixth consecutive monthly fall.

The index has only posted six straight monthly losses once in its history, in 1982.

THREAD OF HOPE

In a note in the morning, when the mainland indexes were still down, analyst Liu Min at FXTM China said “While Chinese stocks are burdened by the U.S. market, losses are relatively small. Chinese investors continue to have a thread of hope.”

Also in the morning, analysts at Huatai Securities forecast continuing weakness.

“Share prices are already at relatively low levels, but by no means does this mean that risk assets represented by stocks are going to turn higher,” they said. “We advise standing fast and waiting for policy signals.”

In one of the latest moves to boost market sentiment, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange said on Wednesday that government-backed Shenzhen Investment Holding would issue 1 billion yuan ($144 million) of bonds, raising money to support struggling listed firms.

On Thursday morning, China’s banking and insurance regulator published a notice allowing insurance asset management firms to launch dedicated products that provide liquidity support to listed firms in a bid to reduce risks related to pledged shares.

Those moves helped to lift securities firms, seen as potential beneficiaries of government support. A sub-index tracking the sector ended 3.95 percent higher. The financial sector index gained 1.78 percent.

Other sectors continued their recent slump. The CSI300 consumer sub-index was 2.23 percent lower and health care firms lost 1.53 percent.

Chipmakers were hit following losses by U.S. peers on Wednesday. A sub-index of the CSI tracking IT firms fell 1.1 percent after the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index fell 6.6 percent following mixed results and disappointing forecasts.

A further slide in China stocks could worsen liquidity pressures in a market already strangled by about $620 billion worth of shares pledged for loans.

In currency markets, China’s yuan weakened past a key level on a stronger U.S. dollar. The yuan was quoted at 6.9504 per dollar at 0815 GMT, weaker than Wednesday’s close of 6.9422 and the first time the currency has passed through the 6.95 per dollar level since January 2017.

Chinese government bond futures rose slightly as equity markets fell. Chinese 10-year Treasury futures for December delivery, the most traded contract, gained 0.09 percent to 95.535.

$1 = 6.9426 Chinese yuan Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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