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China stocks climb as investors bet on recovery hopes

* SSEC +0.63%, CSI300 +0.92%, HSI +0.08%

* Jiangsu Hengrui powers healthcare stocks amid foreign inflows

* Healthcare sub-index up 3.68%

SHANGHAI, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Healthcare and financial shares pushed China’s blue-chip index higher on Thursday on continued investor optimism over swift recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.63% at 3,388.24 points. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.92%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.72%, the consumer staples sector up 1.37%. ** The healthcare sub-index climbed 3.68%, powered by 9.55% jump in shares of Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co Ltd . ** Stock Connect data showed Hengrui was the second-most traded A-share through the Northbound leg of Stock Connect on Wednesday after the company announced promising results for a cancer drug. ** Index gains mirrored strength across the broader markets as investors welcomed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s pledge keep funneling cash into financial markets until the U.S. economic recovery is secure.

** Market focus has turned to the prospect of a pre-Christmas fiscal package from U.S. Congress.

** U.S. lawmakers edged closer to agreement on a $900 billion virus-relief spending package on Wednesday with top Democrats and Republicans sounding more positive than they have in months about getting something done. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.27% to 10,490.21, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.08% at 26,481.79. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.55%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.63% and Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR50 index was up 0.35%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.25% while Japan’s Nikkei index was up 0.17%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.5375 per U.S. dollar, 0.08% weaker than the previous close of 6.5323. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 11.1% and the CSI300 climbed 22%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 6.1%. Shanghai stocks dropped 0.1% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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