August 23, 2017 / 7:21 AM / 2 years ago

Major China stock indexes end flat, steelmakers fall but earnings hopes boost banks

SHANGHAI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - China’s main stock indexes ended little changed on Wednesday, with profit taking in steel firms offsetting a rise in banks ahead of earnings reports that could set the tone for financials for the rest of the year.

The CSI300 index rose 0.1 percent to 3,756.09 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1 percent to 3,287.70.

A statement from the China Iron and Steel Association that it saw little room for further price surges dragged on the sector and benchmark indexes, said Zhang Gang, an analyst at China Central Securities.

“At the same time, a rise in banking and insurance shares is pulling liquidity away from other sectors of the market, making it difficult for the Shanghai index to break through 3,300 in the short term given the lack of clear liquidity or policy signals,” he said.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd lost 3.7 percent, and the materials sub-index fell 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) gained 2.6 percent, and Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd rose 0.3 percent.

The financials sub-index was up 0.9 percent.

Despite worries that banks may face slower loan growth and narrower interest margins in the second half, market expectations of strong first-half profits have been supporting valuations in recent weeks.

Bank of Communications will be the first of China’s five largest lenders to report first-half earnings, on Aug. 24.

China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, ICBC and Bank of China will report first-half results on Aug. 30.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill

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