* CSI300 flat; SSEC +0.3; HSI +1.3;
* Signs of fresh money inflows into China stock market
* Hong Kong shares up after Fed’s signal on rate hike
SHANGHAI, March 19 (Reuters) - Chinese stocks were little changed on Thursday, taking a break after a six-day rally, but traders said signs of strong inflows were pointing to another leg up in the markets’ long bull run.
Hong Kong’s benchmark stock index rose more than 1 percent, with liquidity worries eased a bit after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday signalled it is in no rush to raise interest rates.
“China’s stock market is liquidity-driven. Today, the market is taking a breath after rising for six straight sessions, which is very natural,” said Qiu Shi, Shenzhen-based analyst at Haitai Financial Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd.
“After the short break, the market will likely resume its upward momentum.”
Investors previously worried about China’s economic health regained confidence after Premier Li Keqiang vowed on Sunday to support the economy and protect jobs.
Trend investors are also flocking into stocks after China’s main stock indexes broke through psychological resistance levels and hit near seven-year highs.
Last week, net inflows into securities deposit accounts totalled 818.7 billion yuan ($132.17 billion), the highest weekly increase on record, while 1.38 million new stock trading accounts were opened during the first two weeks of March, exceeding the total for all of February.
In another sign of rising risk appetite, Zhong Ou Asset Management Co Ltd this week raised about 6 billion yuan in China’s biggest mutual fund launch this year, in just three working days.
The CSI300 index was unchanged at 3,845.88 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent, to 3,586.99 points.
But Hong Kong stocks were up strongly. The Hang Seng index added 1.3 percent and the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 1.2 percent.
The U.S. central bank removed a reference to being “patient” on rates from its policy statement, opening the door wider for a hike in the next couple of months while sounding a cautious note on the health of the economic recovery.
Since the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, interest rates in the city tend to follow those set by the Fed, in this case leaving its consumers and businesses exposed to higher borrowing costs even as other countries across Asia are easing policy.
“Over the past few sessions, Hong Kong shares lagged the mainland stock market due to uncertainty about Fed’s rate decisions,” said Chen Zhizhong, analyst at China Merchants Securities.
“We’re seeing a rebound today because the uncertainty is gone.”
The Hong Kong market was also aided by gains in index heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd, which rose 1.8 percent to a record high. ($1 = 6.1943 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Kim Coghill