* SSEC -0.7%, CSI300 -0.6%, HSI -0.5%
* Rare earth firms outperform as trade worries rise
* Yuan softens to 6.877 per dollar
SHANGHAI, July 18 (Reuters) - Chinese shares fell on Thursday as investors worried about the outlook for economic growth, after weak corporate earnings results out of the United States underscored the negative impact of the trade standoff between China and the United States.
** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.65% at 2,912.65. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.6%, with its financial sector sub-index lower by 0.14%, the consumer staples sector down 0.67%, the real estate index down 0.92% and the healthcare sub-index down 0.94%. ** Rare earth firms, which have been sensitive to trade tensions, bucked the broader market trend, with an index tracking the sector adding 0.31%. JL-MAG Rare Earth Co, which hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in May, added 3.7%. ** Gold firms also saw gains, with Zijin Mining adding 0.85%. ** “Gold is seeing inflows as investors became more conservative while rare earth are seeing in flows likely due to some indications of slowdown in trade talks,” Gerry Alfonso, director at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities Co, said in an emailed comment. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 0.42% at 10,802.6, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.49% at 28,453.57. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was down 1.23% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 1.28%. ** CSX Corp on Tuesday posted quarterly profit that missed Wall Street’s target and cut its full-year revenue forecast after weakness in its trade-related intermodal business weighed on results. The announcement helped drag all three major U.S. indexes lower. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.22% while Japan’s Nikkei index was down 1.84%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.877 per U.S. dollar, 0.05% weaker than the previous close of 6.8733. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Taiyuan Chemical Industry Co Ltd, up 10%, followed by Sichuan Western Resources Holding Co Ltd , gaining 10% and China Satellite Communications Co Ltd, up by 8.18%. ** The largest percentage losers in the Shanghai index were Zhuzhou Times New Material Technology Co Ltd, down 7.72%, followed by Poten Environment Group Co Ltd, losing 7.23% and Shenzhen Gongjin Electronics Co Ltd , down by 6.21%. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 17.55%, while China’s H-share index is up 7.1%. Shanghai stocks have declined 1.58% this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were China Resources Beer Holdings Co Ltd, up 2.2%, followed by China Pacific Insurance Group Co Ltd, gaining 2.18% and PICC Property and Casualty Co Ltd, up by 1.64%. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were CNOOC Ltd, which has fallen 2.58%, Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd, which has lost 2.2% and China National Building Material Co Ltd, down by 2.1%. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares dipped 1.4% while the IT sector fell 1.1%. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Want Want China Holdings Ltd, up 1.77%, while the biggest loser was CNOOC Ltd, which was down 2.58%.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; editing by Gopakumar Warrier