July 13, 2017 / 5:02 AM / a year ago

China, Hong Kong stocks gain on bright China trade data, Yellen comments

* SSEC +0.4 pct, CSI300 +0.5 pct, HSI +1.1 pct

* China June trade data beat expectations

* Blue-chips continue to outperform start-ups

SHANGHAI, July 13 (Reuters) - Chinese and Hong Kong stocks gained on Thursday morning, as investors were encouraged by China’s solid trade data and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s signal to adopt a patient approach in the current U.S. rate-tightening phase.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.5 percent, to 3,676.07 points by the lunch break, on track to close at a 1-1/2-year high. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent, to 3,211.51 points.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index jumped 1.1 percent, to 26,323.33 points - a fresh two-year-high, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 1.5 percent, to 10,678.43.

But start-ups in both markets underperformed. China’s small-cap board ChiNext lost 0.2 percent while Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market was roughly flat.

The market was inspired by better-than-expected China trade data for June. Exports rose 11.3 percent last month from a year earlier, while imports expanded 17.2 percent, suggesting the economy is holding up well thanks to firmer global demand.

“Today’s upbeat figures point to still strong foreign demand for Chinese goods, as well as fairly resilient domestic demand,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China Economist at Capital Economics.

“Looking ahead, exports should continue to do well given the relatively positive outlook for China’s main trading partners.”

Risk appetite also improved after Wall Street hit record peaks as investors wagered policy tightening in the United States would be glacial at best.

Chinese investors continued to plow money into blue chips, helping lift sectors such as banking, raw materials and infrastructure.

“Mainland investors are increasingly ditching speculative trading, and putting money in those companies that generate predictable incomes,” said Wu Wei, analyst at Zheshang Securities Co.

Reporting by Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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