* Shanghai stocks lower, blue-chip CSI300 index down
* China, U.S. to hold next round of trade talks in late August
* Gains in Shanghai stocks led by Tianjin Quanyechang Group Co Ltd and losses by Butone Information Corporation XiAn
* China’s A-shares at 17.24 percent premium over H-shares
SHANGHAI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - China stocks hit a near two-and-half-year low in early trading on Thursday as the yuan’s recent fall dampened investor confidence, but news of Sino-U.S. trade talks later this month helped recoup some of the losses. ** China said a delegation would attend the next round of trade talks with U.S. counterparts in Washington later this month, in the latest bid to defuse a conflict that has set world markets on edge. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.4 percent to 3,276.73 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index ended down 0.7 percent at 2,705.19 points. ** Both indexes posted their fourth straight session of declines. ** China’s yuan weakened to a 15-month low against the dollar on Wednesday and flirted with a key support level not seen since 2008 as the dollar extended gains and a raft of data pointed to further slowing in China’s economy. ** The yuan firmed 0.5 percent against the dollar on Thursday on signs of possible easing in tensions between Beijing and Washington as they agreed to hold trade talks late this month.
** “The normal rise and fall in yuan will have limited impact on the stock market, though investor sentiment could be hard hit when key psychological levels are breached, such as the 6.9 per dollar,” said Yan Kaiwen, an analyst with China Fortune Securities. ** The declines also follow downbeat economic data reported on Tuesday, which come as a trade war with the United States threatens to pile more pressure on the world’s second-largest economy. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.33 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.05 percent. ** At 06:59 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.901 per U.S. dollar, 0.48 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.934. ** The largest percentage gainers on the main Shanghai Composite index were Tianjin Quanyechang Group Co Ltd, up 10.1 percent, followed by Junhe Pumps Holding Co Ltd, gaining 10.03 percent, and Jiangsu Jiangnan High Polymer Fiber Co Ltd, up by 10 percent. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Butone Information Corporation XiAn, down 10 percent, followed by Shangying Global Co Ltd, losing 10 percent, and Jason Furniture Hangzhou Co Ltd, down by 9.99 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 18.2 percent, the CSI300 has fallen 18.7 percent, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 10.6 percent. Shanghai stocks have declined 5.93 percent this month. ** About 12.03 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange, roughly 86.9 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 13.83 billion shares a day. The volume in the previous trading session was 11.62 billion. ** As of 07:00 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 17.24 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)