China stocks post weekly gains as investors bet on policy support

* SSEC -0.7%, CSI300 -1.1%

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used -3.8%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 2.8%

* FTSE China A50 -1.5%

BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) - China stocks posted weekly gains, as investors took comfort in the central bank’s surprise decision to cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves to help underpin the country’s post-COVID economic recovery. ** The Shanghai Composite index closed 0.71% lower at 3,539.30 on Friday, while blue-chip CSI300 index was down 1.1%, extending losses from midday. ** For the week, CSI300 gained 0.5%, while the SSEC added 0.43%. ** The consumer staples sector was down 1.86% for the day, the material index fell 1.81% and the information and technology sub-index slipped 0.22%. ** China’s central banks made a surprise cut in banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) last Friday, releasing around 1 trillion yuan in long-term liquidity, lifting hopes for further policy supports throughout the week. ** Investor sentiment was also lifted by better-than-expected June activity data including retail and industrial output, driven by a rebound in developed market demand coupled with the sluggish recovery in Southeast Asian exporters. ** “For China, the economy has fully recovered and the vaccination process is progressing rapidly,” Jian Shi Cortesi, Investment Director of Asian Equities with GAM Investments said. ** “All of these factors should translate into strong corporate earnings growth and be positive to stock prices for the rest of the year,” she added. ** Brokerages recommended sectors with long-term growth potential, as well as investment themes including clean energy and self-sufficiency in key technologies such as semiconductors, software, and Internet of Things. ** Renewable energy stocks jumped on Friday after China opened its long-awaited national carbon emission trading scheme, with nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturer Yunnan Yuntianhua Co surged by 10% daily limit. ** “(But) as uncertainties about (China’s) monetary policy and sector regulation persist, (it is) likely putting pressure on stock valuations,” said Zhu Chaoping, Global Market Strategist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.96% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 2.961%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.37%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.98%.

Reporting by Cheng Leng and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips