SHANGHAI: China stocks started the week on a mixed note after bleak economic data reinforced hopes Beijing will roll out more stimulus to underpin the economy and as investors pondered over the latest developments in the Sino-U.S. tariff war.
The CSI300 index fell 0.2%, to 3,965.40, by the end of the morning session on Monday, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1%, to 3,034.41.
The slowdown in the factory and consumer sectors deepened in August, with industrial production growing at the weakest pace in 17-1/2 years, a sign of increasing weakness in an economy lashed by trade headwinds and soft domestic demand.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in an interview published ahead of the data on Monday that it would be "very difficult" for the economy to continue growing at 6% or more and that it faced "downward pressure".
Analysts say they expect the latest data to lead to more cuts in key lending rates from Chinese authorities.
Investors also parsed through latest news and comments for signs of easing in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he preferred a comprehensive trade deal with China but did not rule out the possibility of an interim pact, even as he said an "easy" agreement would not be possible.
His remarks came after China and the United States made conciliatory gestures as the two sides prepare for new rounds of talks, including China's purchases of U.S. soybeans.
The U.S. Agriculture Department confirmed on Friday that private exporters bought 204,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans destined for China.
Energy firms on Monday outperformed following a surge in oil prices. The CSI300 energy index climbed 2.2% by the lunch break.
In Hong Kong, stocks dropped after clashes and protests over the weekend.
The Hang Seng index dropped 1.0%, to 27,079.16, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.9%, to 10,588.93.
Hong Kong police fired water cannon and volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters throwing petrol bombs at government buildings on Sunday, as months of sometimes violent demonstrations showed no sign of letting up.
Analysts say they believe there could be profit-taking as the benchmark Hang Seng index approaches the 250-daily SMA, seen as a resistance level since August.
Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.36%.
The yuan was quoted at 7.0714 per U.S. dollar, 0.1% firmer than the previous close of 7.0788.
The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Sichuan Xichang Electric Power Co Ltd, up 10.05%, followed by Shenzhen Gongjin Electronics Co Ltd, gaining 10.04%, and Beijing Vastdata Technology Co Ltd, up by 10.01%.
The largest percentage losers in the Shanghai index were Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, down 9.86%, followed by Shanghai Film Co Ltd, losing 5.64%, and Shanghai Milkground Food Tech Co Ltd, down by 5.42%.
The top gainers among H-shares were CNOOC Ltd, up 6.22%, followed by PetroChina Co Ltd, gaining 5.45%, and SINOPHARM GROUP CO LTD, up by 2.06%.
The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, which fell 3.68%, Fosun International Ltd, which lost 3.0%, and CITIC Securities Co Ltd, down by 2.9%.
As of 04:16 GMT, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 29.28% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. - Reuters
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