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China stocks climb on trade hopes, start-ups surge

* SSEC +0.6%, CSI300 +0.3%, HSI -0.3%, HSCE flat

* China hopes for problem-solvign attitude in U.S. trade talks

* Start-ups surge after regulator vows to ease funding channels

HONG KONG, June 21 (Reuters) - The Chinese stock market climbed to its highest level in over one-and-a-half months on Friday, as optimism over forthcoming U.S.-China trade talks and the prospect of easier funding for start-up companies encouraged buyers.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.6% at 3,005.36 points, its highest level since April 30, and up 4.3% week-on-week.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.3% on the day and up 5% so far this week.

** CSI300's financial sector sub-index was flat, the consumer staples sector was down 0.8%, the real estate index was flat, and the healthcare sub-index was up 0.6%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 1.5% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 2.1%.

** Start-up shares surged after China's securities regulator on Thursday issued draft rules that would scrap profitability requirements in merger and acquisition deals involving listed companies.

** The watchdog also committed to easing funding channels for listed firms to improve their cash flow, and encourage companies in the high-tech sector and new strategic industries to restructure.

** "In the short run, (the) policy will have relatively strong sentiment boost for Chinext," analysts at Citic Securities wrote in a note on Friday. They said the rules are "bringing about an institutional dividend for the Chinext board."

** China said on Thursday it hoped U.S. officials would bring a problem-solving attitude to renewed trade talks in advance of a meeting between the two country's leaders' meeting at the Japan G20 summit next week.

** U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday he would speak by telephone to Liu He, China's vice premier and chief negotiator in the trade talks.

** Several U.S. companies, including Apple Inc, have opposed the Trump administration's plan for more U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Apple said the new round of tariffs would reduce the company's competitiveness and cut the contribution it could make to the U.S. Treasury.

** The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to ease policy as soon as next month, and with other central banks such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan seen following suit.

** After rallying on Thursday, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was slightly weaker by 0.2% while Japan's Nikkei index was down 0.8%.

** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong was pretty much flat while the Hang Seng Index eased 0.3% to 28,476.75.

** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Ye Chiu Metal Recycling China Ltd, up 10.2%, followed by Phenix Optical Co Ltd and Shanghai Environment Group Co Ltd, both up 10%.

** As of midday, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 27.01% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares.

** The Shanghai stock index is above both its 50-day moving average and 200-day moving average.

(Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)