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China stocks down for the week even as yuan surge lifts mood

SHANGHAI, Sept 8 (Reuters) - China stocks slipped on Friday to snap a three-week winning streak, as defensive consumers stepped back from a rally, although there were signs investors are pumping fresh money into a market buoyed by solid economic growth and a resurgent yuan.

The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.1 percent, to 3,825.99 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,365.24 points.

For the week, both CSI300 and SSEC shed 0.1 percent.

The Shanghai index remains firmly above the 3,300 mark for the 11th session in a row, a psychologically important level that had posed stiff resistance for the benchmark since early 2016.

The defensive consumer firms lost 2.9 percent in the week to be the biggest drag on the market, while developers led the gains with a 6 percent jump, as investors rotate into more aggressive sectors amid expectations that China's economy will remain largely robust through the year-end.

With the yuan surging to a near 21-month high and taking centre stage again on Friday, investors who shrugged off China's August trade data pushed up sectors such as commodities, airlines and gold, betting they would benefit from the Chinese currency's bullishness, and dollar weakness.

"If history is any guide, yuan and Chinese equities are highly correlated," said Wu Kan, fund manager head of equities trading at Shanshan Finance.

"Yuan bullishness makes yuan-denominated assets more attractive, and lures money inflows...I believe we're already in a bull market."

August trade data showed China's exports rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier, which were in line with expectations but slower than July, while imports grew 13.3 percent, beating market forecasts.

In a sign investors are seizing on the more optimistic outlook and taking on risk, outstanding margin financing - money investors borrowed to buy stocks - continued to climb, hitting 960 billion yuan ($148.95 billion), the highest level this year.

Meanwhile, data shows Chinese individuals are opening stock trading accounts at an accelerated pace, while foreign money inflow is also on the rise.

Investors also expect stability in the market ahead of a key party congress that starts in mid-October, which will feature a key leadership reshuffle and set out the government's economic plans and priorities for the next five years. ($1 = 6.4451 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and John Ruwitch; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)