China shares settle lower as consumer boost fades

* Shanghai stocks -0.36%, blue-chip CSI300 down 0.66%

* Financials sub-index falls 0.56%

* Consumer staples firms trim gains; services activity slows

SHANGHAI, June 3 (Reuters) - China shares closed lower on Thursday, turning around from small gains at midday as a rebound in consumer firms faltered, after a private survey showed that services activity growth slowed in May.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.36% at 3,584.21 and the blue-chip CSI300 index 0.66% lower, with both indexes reversing intraday gains. ** The consumer staples sector gave up most of its gains for the day to finish just 0.09% higher, down from a 1.46% rise at midday. The healthcare sub-index fell 1.25%. ** Healthcare and consumer firms have swung between losses and gains this week as investors weigh the impact of Beijing’s announcement that married couples can have up to three children. ** The wobbly performance of consumer shares followed a private sector survey that showed a slower expansion in China’s services sector activity in May. ** Banks were among the biggest drags on the CSI300 index, with a sub-index tracking the sector down 0.71% on the day. The CSI300 financial sector sub-index fell 0.56%. ** The lower close came a day after China’s margin trading balance amount, an indicator of investor sentiment, hit its highest level since July 2015, as investors borrowed more to purchase shares amid a stock rally. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.34% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was 1.272% weaker. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.21%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.39%. ** At 07:07 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.3926 per U.S. dollar, 0.17% weaker than the previous close of 6.3815 as regulators continued to make moves interpreted as warnings to speculators betting on a stronger Chinese currency. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)