China stocks close lower as tech players weigh

SHANGHAI, May 21 (Reuters) - China stocks ended lower on Thursday, hurt by tech players, on news that U.S. regulators are open to making changes to close a possible loophole in a new rule aimed at curbing global chip sales to Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Ltd.

** At close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.55% at 2,867.92.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.54%, with its financial sector sub-index shedding 0.56%, the real estate index falling 0.53%. The consumer staples sector gained 0.24% and the healthcare sub-index rose 1%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.95% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.882%.

** Leading the decline, the CSI IT index and CSI telecommunications services index shed 2.2% and 2.1%, respectively.

** A U.S. State Department official said the rule, which currently includes chips designed by Huawei and doesn’t cover shipments if they are sent directly to the company’s customers — seen by industry lawyers as a loophole, will be watched by regulators and “certainly make any changes that we think are necessary.”

** Investors also awaited China’s parliamentary meeting, where Premier Li Keqiang is expected to make a state-of-the-nation style address and reiterate Beijing’s long-standing vow to keep the yuan stable.

** China is expected to unveil stimulus measures to spur its economy battered by the novel coronavirus, as it grapples with problems from surging unemployment to worsening U.S. ties.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.23%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.21%.

** At 07:09 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.1018 per U.S. dollar, 0.12% weaker than the previous close of 7.093.

** As of 0710 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 25.85% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Uttaresh.V)