SHANGHAI, Oct 18 (Reuters) - China stocks fell on Friday, posting their steepest daily drop in a month to end the week lower, as weaker-than-expected GDP growth deepened worries over the health of the world’s second largest economy amid a trade war that is more than a year old.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.4%, to 3,869.38, while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.3% to 2,938.14.
** For the week, CSI300 lost 1.1%, while SSEC shed 1.2%.
** China’s third-quarter economic growth slowed more than expected and to its weakest pace in almost three decades as the bruising U.S. trade war hit factory production, boosting the case for Beijing to roll out fresh support.
** Downbeat Chinese data in recent months has highlighted weaker demand at home and abroad. But most analysts say the scope for aggressive stimulus is limited in an economy already saddled with piles of debt following previous easing cycles, which have sent housing prices sharply higher.
** “Given exports are unlikely to stage a comeback and a possible slowdown in the property sector, the downward pressure on China’s economy is likely to continue, with fourth-quarter economic growth expected to slip to 5.9%,” Hwabao Trust economist Nie Wen said.
** “Authorities will loosen policies, but in a more restrained way.”
** Some argued the latest data was not that unexpected.
** The miss of the GDP growth rate in the third quarter is not that big, as China’s economy remains in a downward trend, which could prompt the central government to roll out more stimulative measures to underpin the economy, Zhang Gang, analyst with Central Securities said.
** Focus still remains on the progress of the proposed Sino-U.S. trade deal.
** China hopes to reach a phased agreement in the trade dispute with the United States and cancel tariffs as soon as possible, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday, adding that trade wars had no winners.
** Sectors fell across the board for the day, led down by real estate and infrastructure firms.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.29%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.18%.
** At 0704 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0849 per U.S. dollar, 0.11% weaker than the previous close of 7.0772.
** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 17.8% and the CSI300 has risen 28.5%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 4.1%. Shanghai stocks have risen 1.13% this month.
** As of 07:05 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 28.84% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Catherine Evans)