CORRECTED-China shares end 2012 at 6-mth high, post 1st annual gain in 3 years

Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:58am EST

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(Corrects to omit private equity in para 2 to clarify eligible parties in CSRC ruling)

HONG KONG Dec 31 (Reuters) - Mainland Chinese shares closed at their highest levels in six months on Monday, as strength in insurers and brokerages helped benchmark indexes post their first annual gain in three years.

China plans to allow eligible securities house and insurers' asset management units to develop and manage mutual funds in a bid to reinvigorate an industry struggling to produce returns for investors.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 1.6 percent on the day at 2,523 points. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.6 percent.

The indexes rose 7.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, in 2012 after diving more than 20 percent in 2011.

Both closed at their highest since June 20, largely on the back of a surge in December. The CSI300 and Shanghai Composite soared 17.9 percent and 14.6 percent this month, their respective best monthly gains since July 2009.

Onshore China markets will be shut Jan. 1 to 3 and will reopen for the new year on Friday, Jan. 4. (Reporting by Clement Tan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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