* Fed chair fans hopes for July rate cut; Wall Street, Asia rally
* China 2019 growth seen slowing to 6.2%; policy support expected
HONG KONG, July 11 (Reuters) - Chinese shares advanced on Thursday on rising hopes for global central banks to step up support for economic growth, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell set the scene for a July interest rate cut.
** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.3% at 2,924.85. The blue-chip CSI300 index was also up 0.3%. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index gained 0.3%, the consumer staples sector rose 0.4%, the real estate index was up 0.2% and the healthcare sub-index was 0.3% higher. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 1.3%, while the Hang Seng Index climbed 1.2% to 28,539.74. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.4% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.7%. ** Fed’s Powell on Wednesday paved the way for the first U.S. interest rate cut in a decade later this month, pledging to ‘act as appropriate’ to defend an economic expansion threatened by trade disputes and a global slowdown. ** Analysts say China’s central bank could cut its benchmark policy rate for the first time in four years if the U.S. Federal Reserve delivers a widely expected cut in late July, as Chinese policymakers step up support for the slowing economy. ** China’s economic growth is expected to slow to a near 30-year low of 6.2% this year, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday, despite a flurry of support measures to spur domestic demand to offset the trade war’s impact. Some economists said they expect Beijing to roll out more stimulus soon to ward off a sharper slowdown. ** Citic Securities analysts expect policy support to tame the economy’s slowdown in the second half. They said in a note on Thursday there was “more certainty on infrastructure (spending) accelerating, (which) can offset some of the downward pressure on industrial production prices.” ** China will stabilise trade by reducing tariffs, improving export tax rebate policies and cutting insurance fees for export companies, state media reported on Wednesday, citing a state council meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by almost 1% while Japan’s Nikkei index was up 0.5%. The S&P 500 briefly crossed the 3,000-point market for the first time overnight. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Taiyuan Chemical Industry Co Ltd and Geo-Jade Petroleum Corp, both up 10.1%, followed by Guangdong Tianan New Material Co Ltd, up by 10%. ** In Hong Kong, the top gainer on the Hang Seng was PetroChina Co Ltd, up 3.1%, while the biggest loser was Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, which was down 1.2%. ** As of midday, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 27.13% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The Shanghai stock index is below its 50-day moving average and above its 200-day moving average.
Reporting by Noah Sin; editing by Gopakumar Warrier