* SSEC +0.5 pct, CSI300 +0.7 pct, HSI +0.1 pct
* China Merchants Bank leads financial share gains
* Approval of new tech board lifts IT shares
SHANGHAI, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Chinese shares rose in a choppy session Thursday, lifted by financial firms’ profits and as the approval for a new technology board in Shanghai boosted tech shares. However, trade war and growth worries continue to drag. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.51 percent to 2,594.18. China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.65 percent. ** China’s economy can maintain sustainable rates of growth despite global uncertainties, Vice President Wang Qishan said on Wednesday, days after the world’s second-largest economy posted its weakest expansion in nearly three decades. ** China Merchants Bank shares rose 2.36 percent in Shanghai and 1.59 percent in Hong Kong after the company said its preliminary net profit was up nearly 15 percent in 2018. The CSI financial sector sub-index was 1.02 percent higher. ** China has approved a plan to set up a Nasdaq-style board for tech companies in Shanghai aimed at improving their ability to raise funds, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. A CSI index tracking IT firms was up 2.09 percent. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.27 percent to 10,659.55, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.14 percent at 27,045.06. ** The smaller Shenzhen index gained 0.71 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.4 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.25 percent while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.26 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.7859 per U.S. dollar, 0.08 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.791. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Harbin Dongan Auto Engine Co Ltd, up 10.09 percent, followed by Hunan Corun New Energy Co Ltd , gaining 10.05 percent and Shanghai Diesel Engine Co Ltd, up by 10.03 percent. ** The largest percentage losers in the Shanghai index were Eastern Gold Jade Co Ltd, down 9.92 percent, followed by Xinjiang Winka Times Department Store Co Ltd , losing 6.7 percent and Sichuan Hongda Co Ltd , down by 6.23 percent. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Huatai Securities Co Ltd , up 3.11 percent, followed by GF Securities Co Ltd , gaining 2.66 percent and CITIC Securities Co Ltd , up by 1.98 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Cinda Asset Management Co Ltd, which has fallen 5.83 percent, CRRC Corp Ltd, down 1.9 percent and Tencent Holdings Ltd, down by 1.4 percent. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares rose 1.3 percent while the IT sector fell 0.7 percent. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was AAC Technologies Holdings Inc, up 2.22 percent, while the biggest loser was Tencent Holdings Ltd, which was down 1.44 percent.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Shreejay Sinha