August 27, 2018 / 7:41 AM / a month ago

China stocks at highest in 2 weeks as c.bank seeks to stabilize yuan

* SSEC +1.9 pct, CSI300 +2.4 pct

* China cenbank revives “counter-cyclical factor” for yuan fixing

* Airline shares rally on stronger yuan

* Consumer, healthcare firms up after recent slump

By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Shares in China ended at two-week highs on Monday, lifted by a stronger yuan after a tweak in the central bank’s management of the currency boosted airline stocks and other firms with heavy dollar exposure.

The Shanghai Composite index closed up 1.9 percent at 2,780.90, its biggest daily percentage gain since August 7.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index ended 2.4 percent higher, while the financial sector sub-index rose 1.7 percent.

The consumer staples sector gained 3.9 percent, while the real estate index was up 4.2 percent and the healthcare sub-index rose 3.9 percent.

Consumer, healthcare and real estate firms have suffered during a market slump in recent weeks, dogged by a vaccine scandal that has undermined consumer confidence, and concern over stepped-up property controls.

The yuan hovered at a 2-1/2-week high against the U.S. dollar on Monday after China’s central bank revived a “counter-cyclical factor” in its daily fixing to support the currency, arresting a record 10-week slide that has rattled global markets.

The yuan was quoted at 6.8167 per U.S. dollar, 23 pips firmer than the previous close of 6.819.

Airline shares were among the winners on Monday as investors bet that a stronger yuan would boost their bottom lines. China Southern Airlines gained 4.5 percent and Air China was up 3.3 percent.

A broader index of transport firms gained 1.9 percent.

The smaller Shenzhen index rose 2.5 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index ended 3 percent higher.

Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.1 percent while Japan’s Nikkei index ended 0.9 percent higher.

Shares around the region were supported by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments on Friday that a gradual approach to raising rates was best to protect the U.S. economy and job growth.

The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Tianjin Quanyechang Group Co Ltd , which rose 10.09 percent, Shanghai 3F New Materials Co Ltd, which gained 10.02 percent, and CIG ShangHai Co Ltd, which finished 10.02 percent higher.

Shanghai’s largest percentage losses were led by Gansu Gangtai Holding Group Co Ltd, down 10.07 percent, followed by Xinjiang Korla Pear Co Ltd losing 9.96 percent and Anxin Trust Co Ltd down by 6.6 percent.

The Shanghai index is down 15.9 percent so far this year, while China’s H-share index is off by 5.4 percent. Shanghai stocks have declined 3.32 percent this month.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith Editing by Darren Schuettler

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