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China stocks inch higher on healthcare boost

SHANGHAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - China stocks inched higher on Wednesday, led by gains in healthcare shares after the state planner said the country will accelerate development of vaccines.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.02% at 3,275.09. China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.13%. Healthcare shares led gains in the broader market, with its sub-index jumping 3.65%.

** The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Wednesday China will speed up development of vaccine innovation, diagnostic, testing reagents and antibody drugs.

** Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly China must be held accountable for having “unleashed” COVID-19 on the world. Beijing accused him of “lies” and abusing the U.N. platform to provoke confrontation.

** Major Chinese liquor makers fell more than the broader market, as authorities showed concerns over continued price hikes in high-end liquor products that could stoke resurgence of recreational activities using public funds. Kweichow Moutai Co Ltd fell as much as 2.7% in morning trade.

** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 0.16% to 9,561.75, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.01% at 23,713.97. ** In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares dipped 0.9% while the IT sector rose 0.9%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.5%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.47% and Shanghai’s tech-focused STAR50 index was up 2.63%.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.01% and Japan’s Nikkei index was down 0.39%.

** The yuan was quoted at 6.7948 per U.S. dollar, 0.19% weaker than the previous close of 6.7818.

Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; editing by Uttaresh.V

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