* Shanghai Composite -0.13%, CSI300 -0.07%
* China leaves benchmark lending rate flat for 12th month
* Yuan strengthens past 6.5 per dollar
SHANGHAI, April 20 (Reuters) - China shares edged lower on Tuesday as investors took profits following the previous day’s strong gains, but losses were limited after the country kept its benchmark lending rate steady, easing worries over policy tightening.
** China kept its benchmark lending rate for corporate and household loans steady for the 12th straight month at its April fixing on Tuesday, matching market expectations. ** The flat loan prime rate fixing followed first quarter GDP figures that came in slightly below market forecasts, supporting investor expectations that authorities will leave policy unchanged for the time being. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.13% at 3,472.94. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.07% after posting its best session in more than five weeks on Monday. ** Consumer discretionary firms were the biggest drag on the day with a sub-index tracking the sector dipping 0.88%. Financials lost 0.23% and the real estate index fell 0.97%. ** The CSI new energy vehicles index, which raced 6.25% higher on Monday, fell 0.48%. ** Refinitiv data nevertheless showed a net inflow through the Stock Connect scheme for the day, turning around from earlier outflows. ** Chinese regulators are closely monitoring flows of foreign capital in and out of the country, government officials said on Monday, as overseas interest in Chinese equities grows. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.07% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.09%. ** At 07:14 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.4976 per U.S. dollar, 0.21% firmer than the previous close of 6.511. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is flat and the CSI300 has fallen 2.5%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 3.1%. Shanghai stocks have risen 0.9% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)