China shares edge down as key lending rate kept steady

* Shanghai stocks -0.07%, blue-chip CSI300 index -0.09%

* LPR kept unchanged for 15th straight month

* Evergrande worries rattle property sector

SHANGHAI, July 20 (Reuters) - China shares ended lower on Tuesday after Beijing kept a benchmark lending rate unchanged despite growing expectations for a cut, while investor concerns over developer Evergrande affected the property sector. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was flat at 3,536.79. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.09%, with its financial sector sub-index down 1.16%. ** Policymakers kept the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) at 3.85%. The five-year LPR remained at 4.65%. The rate was unchanged for the 15th straight month, despite growing expectations for a cut after a surprise lowering of bank reserve requirements. ** The steady LPR, coming after the central bank kept the rate on medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans unchanged last week, suggests policymakers are looking to avoid full-scale easing. ** The CSI300 real-estate index dropped 1.52% as concerns around Hong Kong-listed China Evergrande Group dented risk sentiment. ** Sales in two Evergrande developments in a southern Chinese city were temporarily halted by authorities, adding to investor worries about the developer’s cashflow. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.15% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.414%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.71%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.96%. ** At 0701 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.487 per U.S. dollar, 0.05% firmer than the previous close of 6.4905. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 1.8% and the CSI300 has fallen 2%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 8.2%. Shanghai stocks have declined 1.51% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith)