SHANGHAI, May 15 (Reuters) - China’s stock benchmarks rebounded roughly 2% on Wednesday, lifted by consumer shares, as weak industrial output and retail sales data reinforced expectations of fresh stimulus, while a slight softening in rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump eased trade worries.
** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 2.3% to 3,727.09, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.9% to 2,938.68. ** Growth in industrial output slowed more-than-expected to 5.4% in April from a year earlier, pulling back from a surprising strong 4-1/2-year high of 8.5% in March. Retail sales were also worse-than-expected, with the headline number rising 7.2%, the slowest pace since May 2003.
** The lacklustre April activity data, which also includes shrinking exports and stumbling investment, increases “the likelihood of further policy easing”, Capital Economics wrote in a note.
** Fears of further escalation in trade tensions were slightly eased after Trump cited the trade war with China “a little squabble” and insisted talks between the world’s two largest economies had not collapsed. ** Consumer stocks lead the rally, with an index tracking the sector jumping nearly 5%. ** The CSI300 financial sector sub-index was higher by 1.94%, the consumer staples sector up 5.12%, the real estate index up 1.6% and the healthcare sub-index up 2.83%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 2.33% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 2.281%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.56%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.58%. ** At 07:08 GMT, the yuan quoted at 6.8648 per U.S. dollar, 0.15% firmer than the previous close of 6.8753. ** The largest percentage gainers on the main Shanghai Composite index were Changyuan Group Ltd, up 10.1%, followed by Baotou Huazi Industry Co Ltd, gaining 10.09% and Ningxia Jiaze Renewables Corp Ltd, higher by 10.07%. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Sanan Optoelectronics Co Ltd down 5.99%, followed by Aurora Optoelectronics Co Ltd losing 5.06% and Harbin Churin Group Jointstock Co Ltd down by 4.93%. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom)