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China stocks inch up; trade worries offset upbeat factory data cheer

SHANGHAI, Dec 2 (Reuters) – China stocks ended higher on Monday after upbeat factory activity reports, but gains were limited by anxiety over the prospects of a proposed Sino-U.S. trade deal.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.2%, to 3,836.06, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1% to 2,875.81.

** China’s factory activity expanded at the quickest pace in almost three years in November, with solid increases in output and new orders, a private business survey showed on Monday.

** That came after official data showed factory activity in China unexpectedly returned to growth in November for the first time in seven months, as domestic demand picked up on Beijing’s accelerated stimulus measures to steady growth.

** “In the short term, we may have already passed the low point where the economy hit the bottom,” Zhang Deli, a macro analyst with Lianxun Securities, wrote in a note.

** Zhang attributed the better-than-expected November PMI to a government push on infrastructure investment, less property market control, and a de-escalation in U.S.-China trade tension in October.

** China’s central bank governor Yi Gang said in a signed article published on Sunday that Beijing should maintain “normal” monetary policy as long as possible since economic growth is still within a reasonable range and inflation is mild overall.

** However, worries persisted over the prospects of a proposed Sino-U.S. trade deal, with a deadline on an imposition of additional 15% tariffs on Chinese products by the United States just two weeks away.

** Beijing’s top priority in any phase one trade deal with the United States is the removal of existing tariffs on Chinese goods, China’s Global Times newspaper reported on Sunday.

** A trade deal between United States and China was now “stalled because of Hong Kong legislation”, news website Axioms reported on Sunday, citing a source close to U.S. President Donald Trump’s negotiating team.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.23%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 1.01%.

** At 07:07 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0326 per U.S. dollar, 0.01% weaker than the previous close of 7.032.

** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 15.3% and the CSI300 has risen 27.4%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 2.4%. Shanghai stocks have risen 0.13% this month.

** As of 0708 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 28.90% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich)