* Gains led by IT firms as U.S. eases Huawei restrictions
* Xi Jinping visit boosts rare-earths companies
* Yuan strengthens around 6.9 per dollar
SHANGHAI, May 21 (Reuters) - China stocks rose on Tuesday as the easing of U.S. trade restrictions on Chinese telecoms firm Huawei brought relief to investors, lifting sentiment battered by a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.52% at 2,914.22 points. China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose 1.8%. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong edged up 0.57% to 10,693.6, while the Hang Seng Index rose 0.22% to 27,848.79. ** Tuesday’s gains follow the U.S. government temporarily easing trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a move aimed at minimising disruption for its customers. While marking a temporary reprieve, Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, dismissed it and said that the tech firm had prepared for U.S. action. ** The easing of restrictions and Ren’s comments boosted Huawei suppliers in Hong Kong and mainland China. A CSI sub-index tracking information technology companies gained 2.68%, and the info-tech sector in Hong Kong added 1.18%. ** The CSI financial sector sub-index climbed 1.54%, the consumer staples sector rose 1.69%, the real estate index gained 1.55% and the healthcare sub-index jumped 1.82%. ** Companies in the rare-earths sector surged amid speculation that the materials might be used as countermeasures in the Sino-U.S. trade spat, after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Jl Mag Rare-Earth Co Ltd, a producer in southern China, on Monday. Jl Mag Rare-Earth jumped by the daily 10% limit on Monday and Tuesday, leading gains across the sector. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 1.92% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 2.04%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.35%, while Japan’s Nikkei index dipped 0.08%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.9028 per U.S. dollar, 0.15% firmer than the previous close of 6.9133. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Zhongmin Energy Co Ltd, up 10.07%, followed by Ningbo Boway Alloy Material Co Ltd, gaining 10.06% and Shanghai DZH Ltd, up by 10.06%. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Elion Energy Co Ltd, down 10%, followed by Beken Corp, losing 7.25% and Harbin High-Tech Group Co Ltd , down by 7.25%. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 15.11%, while China’s H-share index climbed 5%. Shanghai stocks have declined 6.75% this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were China National Building Material Co Ltd, up 3.09%, followed by China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd, gaining 2.94% and New China Life Insurance Co Ltd, up by 2.93%. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Railway Group Ltd, which dropped 1.69%, China Telecom Corp Ltd, which lost 1.3% and China Vanke Co Ltd , which slipped 1.2%. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was AAC Technologies Holdings Inc, up 3.01%, while the biggest loser was Techtronic Industries Co Ltd, which was down 2.19%.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips