May 10, 2019 / 2:13 AM / 2 months ago

China shares rise, yuan strengthens as trade talks go to the wire

* SSEC +2.5 pct, CSI300 +2.9 pct, HSI +1.6 pct

* Yuan strengthens 0.3 pct

* Tariff hike takes effect at 0401 GMT

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, May 10 (Reuters) - Chinese shares jumped in early trade on Friday, and the yuan strengthened as Chinese and U.S. negotiatiors concluded the first of two days of talks to rescue a trade deal that is close to collapsing, hours before a tariff hike takes effect.

In early trade, the benchmark Shanghai Composite index was up 2.5 percent, having ended at an 11-week closing low in the previous session.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 2.9 percent, with strong gains spread across sectors. The financial sector sub-index added more than 3 percent, the consumer staples sector was up 3.6 percent and real estate firms gained 2.5 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was up 1.6 percent while H-shares added 1.8 percent.

The smaller Shenzhen index was up 2.8 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 3.3 percent.

China’s yuan surged 0.3 percent in early trade to 6.8023 per dollar, despite China’s central bank setting the midpoint of the currency’s daily trading band at its weakest level in 3-1/2 months before the market open, at 6.7912 per dollar.

“The market is not in as much fear anymore. The scale of the rally depends on whether the tariff increases will still go ahead at noon, whether two sides agree to carry on talking, and whether the U.S. president will meet with Liu He,” said a Shanghai-based trader at Chinese bank, commenting on the yuan.

The soft fix came after a tariff war-inspired sell-off in the spot market on Thursday. Traders had expected it to come in even lower.

The offshore yuan strengthened 0.2 percent to 6.8263 per dollar, after weakening to a low of 6.8363 per dollar on Thursday.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked for 90 minutes on Thursday and were expected to resume talks on Friday. Officials did not speak to reporters as they left the talks.

Higher tariffs on Chinese goods are set to take effect at 0401 GMT Friday.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith and Noah Sin; Editing by Sam Holmes

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