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China: Stocks edge up, helped by property sector strength

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[SHANGHAI] 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 rose 0.1 per cent, to 3,193.51, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent 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, China's biggest gold exchange-traded fund, jumped 35 per cent in size over the past month.

Sentiment on Wednesday was underpinned by further strength in property shares, which rose 1.1 per cent 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 over 1 per cent to a record high.