August 9, 2018 / 4:50 AM / in 2 months

China stocks rally on hopes of gov't boost for tech firms, healthcare rebound

* SSEC +1.8 pct, CSI300 +2.4 pct, HSI +0.9 pct

* China Premier Li Keqiang to chair new technology leading group

* Healthcare sub-index gains 3.5 pct on bargain hunting

SHANGHAI, Aug 9 (Reuters) - China’s stock markets rebounded on Thursday, with investors snapping up healthcare and property shares battered by a recent selloff and tech firms rallying on signs the government may offer the sector more support.

Assistance for the tech sector would mark the latest in a series of growth boosting measures being rolled out by Beijing as an escalating trade war with the United States puts more pressure on China’s already slowing economy.

At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.8 percent, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 2.4 percent, more than recovering losses in the previous session.

Gains were broad based, with the CSI300’s financial sector sub-index rising 2.2 percent, consumer staples up 2.5 percent, real estate up 4 percent and healthcare up 3.5 percent.

Those sectors have been badly mauled in a summer selloff triggered by the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, worries over slowing economic growth and fears of more curbs to cool property prices.

Healthcare stocks have sunk in the wake of a vaccine scandal. As of Wednesday’s close, the healthcare sub-index had fallen 17 percent since July 16.

“We could have overestimated the downside risks for the economy, judging from recent economic data including the exports which are not that bad,” said Wang Mingli, an analyst with Guoyuan Securities.

China’s exports surged more than expected in July despite the imposition of U.S. tariffs, but more duties are on the way.

Beijing late on Wednesday said it would slap additional tariffs of 25 percent on $16 billion worth of U.S. imports, in retaliation to news the United States plans to begin collecting 25 percent extra in tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese goods from Aug. 23.

However, the latest volley in the trade war did little to dampen investor enthusiasm on Thursday as investors bet on further government support measures.

China’s securities regulator said on Wednesday that it would revise regulations to ease companies’ access to capital markets and expand the scope of foreign investment.

Technology shares gained after China said it would set up a National Science and Technology Leading Group chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, raising hopes of a policy boost for homegrown tech firms.

The start-up board ChiNext Composite index jumped 3.4 percent, and the Shenzhen index was up 2.7 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.9 percent while the China Enterprises index gained 1 percent. The Hang Seng’s IT sector sub-index rose 2.6 percent

Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd rose 3.3 percent on a positive outlook for first-half performance, while MTR Corp Ltd touched five-month lows after it announced a senior management reshuffle following “inaccuracies” concerning the methodology of a construction project.

At midday, MTR Corp shares were 1.2 percent lower.

In currency markets, the yuan strengthened after the central bank left the midpoint of the currency’s daily trading band essentially unchanged.

At 0401 GMT, the yuan was changing hands at 6.8213 per dollar, 105 pips firmer than the previous onshore close of 6.8318.

A Reuters poll on Thursday found market expectations that the yuan will regain some of its recent losses against the dollar, but only if the trade war between the U.S. and China eases.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith and Luoyan Liu; Editing by Kim Coghill

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