August 15, 2018 / 7:54 AM / 3 months ago

China stocks deepen rout on economic worries, falling yuan

* Shanghai stocks -2.1 pct, blue-chip CSI300 index -2.4 pct

* Healthcare, consumer firms lead broad losses

* Yuan weakens to 15-month low

SHANGHAI, Aug 15 (Reuters) - China stocks extended losses on Wednesday to a third straight day of declines as worries over the country’s cooling economy and the yuan’s descent to a 15-month low knocked investor confidence.

The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 2.4 percent to 3,291.98 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 2.1 percent at 2,723.26 points.

The declines follow downbeat economic data reported on Tuesday, which comes as a trade war with the United States threatens to pile more pressure on the world’s second-largest economy.

To support growth, China has rolled out a $14 billion urban railway plan and pushed local governments to speed up issuance of special bonds for funding infrastructure projects.

Official data on Tuesday showed fixed-asset investment expanded by a less-than-expected 5.5 percent in January-July, a result of Beijing’s crackdown on lavish local government borrowing for projects to boost growth.

Eyes are also on the Chinese yuan as the Turkish lira rout dampened appetite for emerging market currencies.

The yuan weakened to a 15-month low on Wednesday and flirted with a key support level not seen since 2008 as the dollar extended gains and a raft of data pointed to further slowing in China’s economy.

“While the PBOC has propped up the yuan against the U.S. dollar by raising FX risk reserve requirements, the recent plunge in the currencies of some emerging economies (eg. Argentina and Turkey), triggered by debt and geopolitical risks, have adversely affected sentiment,” Gao Ting, Head of China Strategy at UBS Securities, wrote in note.

Sectors retreated across the board, with the CSI300 sub-index tracking consumer firms dropping 2.8 percent and the sub-index tracking healthcare firms plunging 3.8 percent.

Both sectors have come under heavy pressure in recent weeks amid a scandal around domestically made vaccines that has undermined broader consumer confidence, as well as heightened worries about the domestic economy and the trade outlook.

Leading liquor maker Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery closed down 4.9 percent at a four-month low, while Tonghua Dongbao Pharmaceutical plunged the maximum allowed 10 percent.

Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Sam Holmes

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