SHANGHAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - China stocks ended lower on Thursday, as weak manufacturing data raised concerns over the pace of Beijing’s policy support to bolster the economy.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.1% to 3,886.75, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3% to 2,929.06.
** China’s central bank confounded market expectations that it would issue targeted medium-term loans in October, adding to uncertainty over how policymakers plan to stabilise the economy as growth nears 30-year lows.
** Analysts agree more stimulus is needed to get activity back on track and shore up business confidence, but a recent jump on consumer inflation and concerns about rising debt risks are believed to be making authorities wary of taking more aggressive action.
** Factory activity in China shrank for the sixth straight month in October and by more than expected, while service sector growth eased as firms grapple with the weakest economic growth in nearly 30 years.
** “The official PMIs fell by more than expected this month, reinforcing our view that the improvement at the end of Q3 didn’t mark the start of a sustained recovery,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.
** Eyes were also on the development of Sino-U.S. trade talks.
** The Trump administration still expects to sign an initial trade agreement with China next month despite the cancellation of the APEC summit in Chile, while Chinese officials voiced optimism that Beijing and Washington can find a way to clinch the so-called Phase One trade deal next month.
** Beijing could remove extra tariffs imposed since last year on U.S. farm products to ease the way for importers to buy up to $50 billion worth, rather than direct them to buy specific amounts, the head of a government-backed trade association said.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.41%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.37%.
** At 0712 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0367 per U.S. dollar, 0.27% firmer than the previous close of 7.056.
** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 17.4% and the CSI300 has risen 29.1%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 3.8%. Shanghai stocks have risen 0.82% this month.
** As of 0713 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 30.00% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich)