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SHANGHAI, June 27 (Reuters) - Chinese shares ended higher on Thursday as hopes rose that the United States and China could reach an agreement to prevent further escalation in their trade war, ahead of a meeting between leaders of the two countries this weekend.
** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.69% at 2,996.79, after two straight sessions of losses.
** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 1.07%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 1.24%, the consumer staples sector up 1.65%, the real estate index up 0.59% and the healthcare sub-index up 0.83%.
** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 1.09% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.376%.
** U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that a deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was possible this weekend, but that he was prepared to impose U.S. tariffs on virtually all remaining Chinese imports if the two countries continue to disagree.
** Supporting hopes for a trade war resolution, the South China Morning Post reported, citing sources, that the United States and China had agreed to a tentative truce ahead of the meeting between Xi and Trump.
** Helping to support sentiment, new official data showed that China's industrial companies posted better profits in May, boosted by improving sales and better margins.
** Shares of Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd climbed as much as 2.2% to a record 1,001 yuan, ending up 1.68%. Investors expect consumer firms to benefit from Beijing's measures to promote domestic consumption amid the trade war. An index tracking consumer staples firms gained 1.65%.
** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.87%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 1.19%.
** At 07:18 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.8752 per U.S. dollar, 0.07% firmer than the previous close of 6.8803.
** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Cashway Technology Co Ltd, up 10.04%, followed by Shanghai Shenqi Pharmaceutical Investment Management Co Ltd, gaining 10.03%, and Anhui Golden Seed Winery Co Ltd, up by 10.02%.
** The largest percentage losers in the Shanghai index were China Sports Industry Group Co Ltd, down 10.02%, followed by Dawning Information Industry Co Ltd, losing 9.99%, and Hangzhou Cable Co Ltd, down by 9.77%.
** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 20.2% and the CSI300 has risen 27.4%, while China's H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 7.7%. Shanghai stocks have risen 3.38% this month. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)