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Chinese shares barely changed as investors take a breather

* SSEC -0.08 pct, CSI300 +0.08 pct

* Agriculture firms fall following WTO decision

* Hong Kong markets closed for holiday

SHANGHAI, April 19 (Reuters) - China's benchmark equity index inched lower on Friday, while blue-chips edged higher, as investors await clearer signs of a sustainable economic recovery and a resolution to a long-running trade war with the United States.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.08 percent at 3,247.64 points. ** China's blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.08 percent, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.52 percent, the consumer staples sector down 0.69 percent, the real estate index up 0.22 percent and the healthcare sub-index down 0.04 percent. ** A sub-index tracking agriculture firms fell 0.59 percent after the United States won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China's use of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn. ** The smaller Shenzhen index was down 0.13 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was unchanged. ** Markets in Hong Kong are closed for a holiday. ** The muted reaction of Chinese markets following stronger-than-expected economic data released this week shows that investors continue to harbour doubts over the sustainability of China's economic recovery, and of the outlook for policy support. ** But the opening of China's capital markets could help to attract more foreign capital in the long term. China's foreign exchange regulator said Thursday it hopes to attract more foreign investment, and that there is significant room for foreign investors to buy more Chinese bonds and stocks. ** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.02 percent, while Japan's Nikkei index was up 0.42 percent. ** The yuan quoted at 6.702 per U.S. dollar, 0.1 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.7085. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Changzhou Xingyu Automotive Lighting Systems Co Ltd , up 10.01 percent, followed by Shanghai Yongguan Adhesive Products Corp Ltd, gaining 10.01 percent and Yangzhou Yaxing Motor Coach Co Ltd, up by 10 percent. ** The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Aurora Optoelectronics Co Ltd, down 9.93 percent, followed by Foxconn Industrial Internet Co Ltd, losing 7.8 percent and China Publishing & Media Holdings Co Ltd , down by 7.62 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 30.33 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 5.16 percent this month. ** About 18.37 billion shares have traded so far on the Shanghai exchange, roughly 46.2 percent of the market's 30-day moving average of 39.79 billion shares a day. The volume traded was 32.55 billion as of the last full trading day.

(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Uttaresh.V)

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