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China stocks erase early fall, helped by consumer and healthcare firms

SHANGHAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - China stocks edged up on Tuesday, erasing early losses thanks mainly to gains in consumer and healthcare shares as investors awaited third-quarter economic data and earnings reports.

The blue-chip CSI300 index, which at one point was down 0.7 percent, rose 0.2 percent, to 3,889.86 points.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,382.99 points.

Economic data in coming weeks is expected to show solid growth continued into September, though many China watchers maintain there will be some loss of momentum in coming months in response to higher borrowing costs and a cooling housing market.

Wang Jun, a strategist at Hua Chuang Securities, expected markets to be stable ahead of a key Communist Party Congress starting on Oct. 18. The twice-a-decade event will see a leadership reshuffle and discussions on long-term political and economic priorities.

There was muted reaction to comments from the Statistics Bureau on Tuesday that China will have no problem meeting its economic growth target of around 6.5 percent this year, and may even beat it. Such an outcome had been widely expected after the year's robust start.

Sector performance was mixed on Tuesday.

Defensive consumer and healthcare stocks led the gains, after the government vowed to deepen medical reforms, while material and energy plays retreated amid a widespread correction in the commodities market.

Shenzhen-listed chemical maker Fangda Jinhua Chemical Technology Co Ltd kicked off the quarterly earnings season with a 187 percent surge in nine-month profit.

But the stock ended 1.7 percent lower, as traders said a strong showing had already been priced in. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and John Ruwitch; Editing by Richard Borsuk)