* SSEC -0.2 pct, CSI300 -0.4 pct, HSI -0.3 pct
* Nuclear firms surge on progress in 2 nuclear power projects
SHANGHAI, March 19 (Reuters) - Chinese shares edged lower on Tuesday as investors took profits after major stock indexes closed near 6-1/2 month highs in the previous session, but the downside was limited by expectation that the U.S. Federal Reserve would take a dovish stance at its meeting this week. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.22 percent at 3,089.50. China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.37 percent. Both indexes closed near 6-1/2 month highs on Monday. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 0.46 percent to 11,620.81, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.25 percent at 29,334.61. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was unchanged for the day and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.12 percent. ** Investors are looking to the Fed policy meeting to see whether policymakers have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to more closely align their “dot plot”, a diagram showing individual policymakers’ rate views for the next three years. ** In contrast to broader market declines, nuclear power-related stocks surged after environmental impact assessments (EIA) for two nuclear power plant projects were submitted for approval to regulators on Monday, a vital stage in the resumption of China’s atomic energy programme after a three-year halt in new approvals. ** State-owned China National Nuclear Power jumped as much as 10 percent to its highest since April 2018, before trimming gains. It was last up 2.29 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.05 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.16 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.7162 per U.S. dollar, 0.04 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7135. ** The largest percentage gainers on the main Shanghai Composite index were Lanzhou LS Heavy Equipment Co Ltd, up 10.09 percent, followed by Hunan Chen Dian International Development Co Ltd, gaining 10.04 percent, and Beijing Teamsun Technology Co Ltd, up by 10.04 percent. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Yiwu Huading Nylon Co Ltd, down 10.01 percent, followed by Shanghai Yanshi Enterprise Development Co Ltd, losing 4.92 percent, and Hainan Yedao Group Co Ltd, down by 4.85 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 24.16 percent, while China’s H-share index is up 15.3 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 5.29 percent this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were CGN Power Co Ltd , up 3.64 percent, followed by Great Wall Motor Co Ltd , gaining 3.28 percent, and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd, up by 3.01 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Gas Holdings Ltd, which has fallen 4.44 percent, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd, which has lost 2.8 percent, and Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd , down by 2.6 percent. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares dipped 0.6 percent, while the IT sector fell 0.6 percent. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd, up 5.27 percent, while the biggest loser was Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd , which was down 2.65 percent.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu