China shares falter on fragile sentiment; rare earth firms soar

* SSEC -0.11%; CSI300 -0.51%; HSI -0.4%

* Financial shares down, PBOC makes large cash injection

* Rare-earth producers rise on report of possible restrictions

SHANGHAI, May 29 (Reuters) - China stocks dipped on Wednesday, after two consecutive sessions of gains, as investor concerns over a slowing economy and Beijing’s trade dispute with Washington ate away at sentiment.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.11% at 2,906.82 points. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.51%, the consumer staples sector up 0.31%, the real estate index dropped 1.36% and the healthcare sub-index slipped 1.04%. ** Financial shares stuttered, falling 0.73% amid ongoing uncertainty over the impact of a regulatory takeover of Baoshang Bank, a troubled regional lender. Chinese money rates rose following the takeover, but have since retreated. China’s central bank made its largest daily net cash injection into China’s banking system in more than four months on Wednesday. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong dropped 0.12% at 10,403.72, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.4% at 27,280.74. ** However, shares of China’s rare earth-related firms climbed after a media report stated that Beijing is mulling restricting exports to the United States. Hong Kong-listed shares of China Rare Earth Holdings Ltd soared 31.4%, while JL MAG Rare-Earth Co Ltd, which was visited by Chinese president Xi Jinping last week, rose by the daily 10% limit to a record high. ** China’s Communist Party newspaper warned the United States on Wednesday that the country was ready to use rare earths to strike back in their bitter trade war, saying in an extremely strongly worded commentary “don’t say we didn’t warn you”. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.12% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.31%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.59%, while Japan’s Nikkei index dropped 1.11%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.9137 per U.S. dollar, 0.08% weaker than the previous close of 6.908. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Danhua Chemical Technology Co Ltd, up 10.11%, followed by Nanjing Tanker Corp, gaining 10.1% and First Tractor Co Ltd, up by 10.08%. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were HNA Infrastructure Investment Group Co Ltd, down 5.63%, followed by Guizhou Changzheng Tiancheng Holding Co Ltd , losing 4.97% and Chunghsin Technology Group Co Ltd , down by 4.93%. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index jumped 16.68%, while China’s H-share index climbed 2.9%. Shanghai stocks have declined 5.47% so far this month. ** The top gainers among H-shares were PICC Property and Casualty Co Ltd, up 2.98%, followed by New China Life Insurance Co Ltd, gaining 2.1% and China Tower Corp Ltd, up by 1.66%. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were CGN Power Co Ltd, which dropped 1.87%, GF Securities Co Ltd, which lost 1.2% and Haitong Securities Co Ltd , down by 1.2%. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares dipped 0.2%, while the IT sector fell 0.5%. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd, up 1.47%, while the biggest loser was Sands China Ltd, which slipped 2.57%. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)