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China stocks close firmer as investors eye stimulus plan

SHANGHAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Chinese stocks ended higher on Thursday, led by consumer shares, as investors cheered news of Beijing’s pledge to boost domestic consumption and promote an innovation-driven growth model to salvage a pandemic-ravaged economy.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index ended 0.7% higher at 4,927.99, while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.5% to 3,363.09 points.

** The tech-heavy start-up board ChiNext and the STAR50 index added 0.9% and 1.2%, respectively.

** Consumer shares led the rally, with the CSI300 consumer staples index and the CSI300 consumer discretionary index rising 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively.

** China will expand consumption of cars and consumption in rural areas, according to a report by state broadcaster CCTV, citing a meeting of the country’s cabinet chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

** China will also promote the consumption of home appliances and catering, CCTV reported.

** Dual-listed Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd rallied in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, leading the gains for carmakers.

** Adding to sentiment, President Xi Jinping said China would continue to cut its tariffs and expand imports of high-quality goods and services.

** Bucking the broad strength, securities firms fell, led by Haitong Securities Co Ltd falling 6.3% in Shanghai after Beijing alleged manipulation.

** Chinese investigations into last week’s shock bond default by a state-owned coal miner widened on Wednesday with a regulator threatening to sanction Haitong Securities, one of the country’s biggest brokerages, for alleged manipulation.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.51%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.36%.

** At 0711 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.572 per U.S. dollar, 0.2% weaker than the previous close of 6.559.

** As of 0712 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 41.68% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)