* SSEC -0.2 pct, CSI300 flat, HSI +1.1 pct
* China inflation data in line with market forecast
* Investors diverge toward China consumer stocks after strong gain
SHANGHAI, July 10 (Reuters) - China stocks were tentative on Monday morning, as some investors reconsidered their sectoral preferences and awaited fresh catalysts ahead of a burst of data due over the next week or so after the June inflation report met market expectations.
Hong Kong shares gained over 1 percent, as a jump in financials offset a tumble in raw material stocks.
China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was unchanged at 3,655.38 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent, to 3,211.31 points.
Small-caps underperformed, with the start-up board ChiNext losing over 1 percent.
Markets shrugged off China’s inflation data, which met expectations and did little to alter the view that economic growth is cooling after a solid first quarter.
Producer price inflation was unchanged in June at 5.5 percent and remained well off highs seen earlier this year, while June consumer prices rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier.
Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said that ”with slowing credit growth likely to weigh on economic activity in coming quarters ... inflation will start falling again before long.
“This will disappoint those hopping for a sustained period of reflation that could help to erode corporate debt burdens.”
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was sanguine about the outlook even as he acknowledged that the economy still faced many difficulties.
Most economists expect growth to cool off in the next few quarters as the key real estate sector slows, while Beijing’s crack down on debt risks raises financing costs in a generally tighter funding environment.
China will release second-quarter gross domestic product(GDP) on July 17, along with June industrial output, retail sales and January-June fixed asset investment.
Sector performance was mixed on Monday, with energy and coal shares dropping, while consumer shares rose following last week’s correction.
UBS Securities analyst Gao Ting said that after stellar gains in certain sectors such as consumer, investor views are to diverge.
“Expectations for these stocks have begun to diverge, with some investors seeing limited upside for quality consumer stocks as valuations touch five-year highs after substantial YTD gains, while others remain upbeat on the re-rating potential of leading players.”
Hong Kong stocks were firm, with the Hang Seng index adding 1.1 percent, to 25,608.16 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index rising 0.6 percent, to 10,314.86.
Sentiment was aided by a surge in COSCO Shipping’s and Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas International Ltd’s (OOIL) shares after the Chinese shipping giant made a $6.3 billion offer for its smaller rival on Sunday.
Index heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd rose over 1 percent, on news that the Chinese gaming giant will launch its mega-hit smartphone game “Honour of Kings” in the EU and United States this year.
Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Shri Navaratnam