* SSEC -0.4 pct, CSI300 flat, HSI -0.1 pct
* Top-level meeting calls for policy “fine-tuning”
* Easing stimulus could see sentiment swing lower - UBS analyst
SHANGHAI, April 23 (Reuters) - Chinese shares edged lower on Monday, extending sharp declines hit in the previous session, but a see-saw trade reflected investor uncertainty over how much additional support Beijing will provide to the economy after growth beat expectations. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.35 percent at 3,203.63 points. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.03 percent, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.44 percent, the consumer staples sector up 0.93 percent, the real estate index up 1.07 percent and the healthcare sub-index up 0.71 percent. ** The CSI300 and Shanghai Composite both recorded their biggest single-day drops since March 25 on Monday. ** China should fine-tune monetary policy “in a timely and pre-emptive way based on economic growth and changes in price situations,” the official Xinhua News Agency said on Monday, citing a top-level meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping. The report echoed comments from the Politburo, State Council and central bank in the past two weeks. ** Data released last week showed China’s economy expanded at a steady 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, defying expectations for a further slowdown, with industrial output, retail sales and investment in March all growing faster than expected following a raft of growth-boosting measures rolled out in recent months. ** “A-shares investors tend to be more sensitive to shifts in monetary policy tone. Easing of monetary stimulus could lead to a sentiment swing to the downside, in our view,” Gao Ting, head of China Strategy at UBS Securities, said in a note. “On the other hand, stronger-than-expected inflow induced by MSCI A-share inclusion is an upside risk to the onshore market.” ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong dropped 0.45 percent to 11,715.6, while the Hang Seng Index edged 0.08 percent lower to 29,938.35. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was down 0.87 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.51 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.07 percent while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.03 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.7128 per U.S. dollar, 0.01 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7122. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Guangdong Meiyan Jixiang Hydropower Co Ltd , up 10.06 percent, followed by CTS International Logistics Corp Ltd, gaining 10.05 percent and Yangzhou Yaxing Motor Coach Co Ltd, up by 10.03 percent. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Aurora Optoelectronics Co Ltd, down 10.02 percent, followed by Shanghai Zhixin Electric Co Ltd, losing 10.01 percent and Lifan Industry Group Co Ltd, down by 9.83 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index climbed 28.92 percent, while China’s H-share index rose 16.2 percent. Shanghai stocks gained 4.02 percent so far this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were China Tower Corp Ltd , up 3.64 percent, followed by China Life Insurance Co Ltd, gaining 2.74 percent and Hengan International Group Company Ltd, up by 2.22 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Air China Ltd, which dropped 6.37 percent, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd, which lost 4.8 percent and China Vanke Co Ltd, which slipped 4.3 percent. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares rose 0.8 percent, while the IT sector climbed 0.3 percent.
The top gainer on the Hang Seng was WH Group Ltd, up 6.41 percent, while the biggest loser was Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, which slipped 3.71 percent.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips