China shares edge higher, healthcare stocks jump on vaccine hopes

* SSEC, CSI300 +0.07%, HSI 1.9%

* Healthcare shares surge as vaccine hopes rise

* Hong Kong shares rise on improved global risk appetite

* Alibaba’s HK shares soar on news of Ant Financial IPOs

SHANGHAI, July 21 (Reuters) - China shares inched higher on Tuesday, supported by strong gains in healthcare stocks on rising hopes for a coronavirus vaccine, although profit-taking after the previous session’s rally kept gains in check. ** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.07% at 3,316.56, after a 3.1% gain on Monday. The blue-chip CSI300 index also rose 0.07%. ** Healthcare shares outperformed the broader market amid rising global hopes for coronavirus vaccines following promising studies. A sub-index tracking the sector jumped 2.78%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.27% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.76%. ** Hong Kong shares rose, as news of promising vaccine studies and progress by European Union leaders in reaching a deal on a massive stimulus plan lifted global risk appetite. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 1.27% to 10,426.11, while the Hang Seng Index was up 1.88% at 25,529.02. ** E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding’s Hong Kong shares jumped 6.59% after Ant Group, its fintech arm, said it has started the process of a dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Market. ** Hong Kong shares shrugged off concerns over rising political tensions between China and the United Kingdom after Britain announced it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.76% while Japan’s Nikkei index was up 0.78%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.9936 per U.S. dollar, 0.03% weaker than the previous close of 6.9915. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 8.66%, while China’s H-share index is down 7.8%. Shanghai stocks have risen 11.04% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Rashmi Aich)