China's blue-chip index closes higher on consumer shares; SMIC slumps

* SSEC flat, CSI300 0.2%

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used 7.8%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 0.3%

* FTSE China A50 +0.6%

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 16 (Reuters) - China’s blue-chip index ended higher on Wednesday as optimism over the continued recovery in the world’s second-largest economy lifted consumer stocks, offsetting weakness in the tech sector. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index ended flat at 3,366.98, while its blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.18%. ** The consumer staples sector rose 1.08%, while the healthcare sub-index firmed 0.84%. ** The start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.065%, and Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR50 index was down 1.32%, dragged by heaviweight Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp . ** Shanghai-listed shares of SMIC slumped as much as 9.8% before they closed down 5.5% after the company said its board was aware of Mong-Song Liang’s intention to resign from the CEO position. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.35%. ** Broadly on the economic recovery front, analysts say activity and spending data released on Tuesday suggest that China’s economy continued to accelerate across all fronts. ** China’s factory output grew at its fastest pace in 20 months in November, as revived consumer spending and a gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in major trading partners lifted demand for the country’s manufactured goods. ** “The economy will remain strong in the near term, as households run down the excess savings they accumulated this year,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.26%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.26%.

Reporting by Cheng Leng in Beijing and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Aditya Soni