China stocks end higher on optimism over Beijing's pledge to support recovery

* SSEC 0.8%, CSI300 0.9%

* NEV sub-index and CSI300 Industrials lead gains

* PBOC to cool credit growth in 2021

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - China shares ended higher on Wednesday, buoyed by optimism that policymakers would likely avoid sudden credit policy tightening in 2021 to support an economic recovery from the pandemic-induced slump. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.76% at 3,382.32, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.85%. The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.74%.

** The start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.11% while Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR50 index was up 1.32%. ** Leading the gains, the new energy vehicle sub-index and the CSI300 industrials index rose 2.1% and 2.3%, respectively.

** China’s central bank will scale back support for the economy in 2021 and cool credit growth, but fears of derailing a recovery from a pandemic-induced slump and debt defaults are likely to prevent it from tightening any time soon, policy sources said.

** China’s state planner said it would launch a nationwide inspection on the repayment risks for enterprise bonds that mature in the near term and in 2021. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.05%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.33%. ** At 07:20 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.537 per U.S. dollar, 0.09% firmer than the previous close of 6.5429. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich)