SHANGHAI, July 18 (Reuters) - ** China stocks fell on Thursday as investors prepared for tepid results from the ongoing earnings season, as weak corporate earnings trends in the U.S. underscored the impact of the trade standoff between Beijing and Washington.
** Shenzhen’s tech-heavy board ChiNext led the decline, falling nearly 2%, as the imminent debut of Shanghai’s competing Nasdaq-style board, the STAR Market, diverted attention and liquidity.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.0%, to 3,768.40, while the Shanghai Composite Index also dropped 1% to 2,901.18.
** Rare earth firms, which have been sensitive to trade tensions, bucked the broader market trend. JL-MAG Rare Earth Co , which hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in May, added 3%.
** Gold firms also saw gains, with Zijin Mining adding 0.3%.
** “Gold is seeing inflows as investors became more conservative while rare earth are seeing in flows likely due to some indications of slowdown in trade talks,” Gerry Alfonso, director at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities Co, said in an email comment.
** The CSI300 financial sector sub-index was lower by 0.46%, the consumer staples sector down 1.42%, the real estate index declined 0.88% and the healthcare sub-index fell 1.16%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended 1.63% lower and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 1.66%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.32%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 1.97%. ** At 07:33 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.8785 per U.S. dollar, 0.08% weaker than the previous close of 6.8733. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Nuode Investment Co Ltd, up 10.08%, followed by Taiyuan Chemical Industry Co Ltd, gaining 10% and Sichuan Western Resources Holding Co Ltd , up by 10%. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Poten Environment Group Co Ltd down 8.39%, followed by Danhua Chemical Technology Co Ltd losing 8.08% and Zhuzhou Times New Material Technology Co Ltd down by 7.92%. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Uttaresh.V)