China stocks edge up, helped by property sector strength

A Chinese investor monitors share prices at a securities company in Shanghai

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China stocks edged up on Wednesday, aided by a second day of gains for property shares and growing expectations of state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms.

But the trading volume in Shanghai shrank to a two-month low amid signs that investors are turning their focus to gold and bonds.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index <.CSI300> rose 0.1 percent, to 3,193.51, while the Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC> gained 0.2 percent to 2,978.46 points.

Lingering concerns over China’s economy continued to haunt investors. A private survey showed on Wednesday that growth in the services sector cooled in July, with weaker expansions in activity prompting companies to shed staff for the first time in four months.

Although regulators are hoping to guide capital into the real economy with tighter rules, analysts say liquidity is actually flowing into perceived safe-haven assets such as bonds and gold.

Bond yields have been trending lower and Huaan Gold ETF <518880.SS>, China’s biggest gold exchange-traded fund, jumped 35 percent in size over the past month.

Sentiment on Wednesday was underpinned by further strength in property shares <.CSI300REI>, which rose 1.1 percent after reports earlier this week showed home prices still rising rapidly in most of China’s larger cities.

Investors also bet on SOE reforms, pushing up the Shanghai SOEs Index <.CSI950096> over 1 percent to a record high.

(Reporting by the Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Richard Borsuk)