* CSI300 +0.2 pct; SSEC +0.3 pct; HSI -0.9 pct
* Investors face mounting uncertainty - analyst
* Barclays sees attractive valuations in China banks
SHANGHAI, Sept 24 (Reuters) - China stocks ended Thursday morning roughly flat as an early morning rebound lost momentum, reflecting how investor confidence in the economy remains shaky.
Hong Kong shares continued to slide, after the benchmark index broke through a key technical support level during the previous session’s tumble.
“Investors are facing mounting uncertainty,” said Hong Hao, chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co.
He added that the Federal Reserve’s decision to hold rates last week is sending a signal that the economy is not good, so “deteriorating fundamentals pose the biggest risk to equity markets”.
China’s key indexes had a good start, with the SSEC up 1.1 percent at one point, but gains were then pared.
At lunchtime, the CSI300 index was up 0.2 percent, to 3,269.52 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent, to 3,124.17 points.
The China market has stabilized in recent weeks after slumping over 40 percent from its mid-June peak, thanks to a barrage of government rescue measures.
But technically, key indexes are still in a downward trend, while drastically reduced trading volume suggests many investors are staying out of the stock market.
There’s anecdotal evidence investors burnt by the market crash are cutting back spending, potentially hitting consumption, an important growth engine for China’s economy.
“The fear is that the stock market could be mired in prolonged bearishness, something that could last for years,” said Chang Chengwei, analyst at Hengtai Futures.
Banking stocks remained weak, although some analysts see value in them.
“We recently turned positive on China banks owing to their attractive valuation,” Barclays said in a note on Thursday, identifying China Construction Bank and China Merchants Bank as its preferred picks in the sector.
Real estate stocks fell despite signs of a mild recovery in China’s property market.
China Merchants Property slumped 10 percent, the downward daily limit, after its shares resumed trading following a restructuring that made it the country’s biggest listed developer, toppling China Vanke Co.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.9 percent, to 21,103.80 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.4 percent, to 9,438.49.
Most main Hong Kong sectors fell, with financial and energy stocks leading the decline.
“The Hong Kong market has fallen a lot, but it’s too early to judge if the market has bottomed out, as investor confidence toward the economy is very fragile,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities.
“Remember, we still in a down cycle.” (Reported by Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Richard Borsuk)