* Shanghai stocks +0.56 pct, blue-chip CSI300 +0.55 pct
* 2018 GDP growth at 6.6 pct, slowest since 1990
* China’s A-shares at 17.87 pct premium over H-shares
SHANGHAI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - China shares ended higher on Monday as investors shrugged off the country’s slowest rate of annual economic growth in 28 years amid expectations that authorities will pursue more stimulus to support growth.
** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.56 percent at 2,610.51. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.55 percent, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.23 percent and the healthcare sub-index up 0.38 percent. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.61 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.416 percent. ** China’s economic growth cooled slightly to 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, weighed down by weak investment, faltering consumer confidence and the trade war with the United States, leaving 2018 growth at 6.6 percent, the weakest since 1990. ** The slowdown was in line with expectations, and “we can expect more supportive policies,” said Larry Hu, an economist at Macquarie Capital in Hong Kong. ** China’s Finance Ministry on Friday announced further tax cuts for small companies as part of an effort to create jobs and promote economic stability. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.11 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.26 percent. ** At 07:15 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.7885 per U.S. dollar, 0.13 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7795. ** The largest percentage gainers on the main Shanghai Composite index were Citic Guoan Wine Co Ltd, up 10.17 percent, followed by Shanghai Hongda Mining Co Ltd, gaining 10.07 percent, and GigaDevice Semiconductor Beijing Inc , up by 10 percent. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Changshu Fengfan Power Equipment Co Ltd, down 10.05 percent, followed by Fujian Anjoy Foods Co Ltd, losing 7.13 percent, and Pengqi Technology Development Co Ltd , down by 6.23 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 4.7 percent and the CSI300 has risen 5.8 percent, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 5.6 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 4.68 percent this month. ** About 16.34 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange, roughly 119.8 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 13.64 billion shares a day. The volume in the previous trading session was 19.08 billion. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith in SHANGHAI and Noah Sin in HONG KONG; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)