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China stocks end flat, yuan rebound grabs the spotlight

Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's main indexes barely changed on Thursday after a three-session winning streak, with investor attention largely diverted by a dramatic rebound in the offshore yuan.

The blue-chip CSI300 index <.CSI300> was flat at 3,367.79 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC> gained 0.2 percent to 3,165.41 points.

Investors' were muted in their response towards a private survey showing that growth in China's services sector accelerated to a 17-month high in December.

Attention was squarely on the Chinese currency, which has rebounded sharply against the U.S. dollar in the offshore market, sparking speculation that Beijing wants a firm grip on the yuan before President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration later this month.

Sectors were mixed. Gains were led by transport <.CSI300TRANS> and energy shares <.CSI300EN>, while consumer <.CSI300CS> and healthcare <.CSI300HC> took a breather.

State-owned enterprise (SOE) reform was the main driver behind the rally of some heavyweight blue-chips, as China vowed to push forward mixed-ownership reforms in several key sectors, including aviation, railway and telecommunications.

SOE Reform bellwether China United Network Communications <600050.SS> settled up 5.7 percent, within sight of an 16-month high hit on late December. The stock soared 89 percent since end September.

(Reporting by Luoyan Liu and John Ruwitch; Editing by Eric Meijer)