China stocks firm after Brexit deal; materials, healthcare lead

SHANGHAI, Dec 25 (Reuters) - China stocks rose on Friday, led by materials and healthcare firms, as the Brexit deal helped lift sentiment.

** The CSI300 index rose 0.6%, to 5,030.56 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8%, to 3,389.48 points.

** The tech-heavy start-up board ChiNext firmed 0.3%, while the STAR50 index climbed 0.6%.

** For the week, SSEC slipped 0.2%, while CSI300 index added 0.6%, hovering near a five-year high.

** Leading the gains on Friday, the CSI300 materials index and CSI300 healthcare index both rallied 1.7%.

** Britain clinched a narrow Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Thursday, just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire.

** Also helping soothe worries over the country’s corporate bond defaults, China’s central bank said it will step up its regulation of the bond market in line with the law, vowing “zero tolerance” towards illegal activities.

** Looking into 2021, the Shanghai index could hit the 4,000-point level thanks to China’s solid economic recovery and continued policy support, Southwest Securities said in a report.

** The brokerage recommended cyclical firms and companies in the clean energy chain as Beijing pledges “carbon neutralization”.

** In the annual Central Economic Work Conference, a gathering of top leaders and policymakers to chart the economy’s course in 2021, China said it would maintain support for its economic recovery, avoiding a sudden shift in policy, to help keep growth within a reasonable range in 2021.

** The Hong Kong stock market is closed on Friday for a public holiday. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith)