* SSEC -0.2 pct, CSI300 0.0 pct by midday
* Materials shares hit as steel association casts doubt on further price rises
* Zotye Automobile up 5.2 pct after Ford JV news
SHANGHAI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - China’s benchmark stock indexes ended the morning session little changed on Wednesday as rising financial shares offset selling pressure on materials firms amid doubts about how much longer a rally in steel prices can be maintained.
The CSI300 index was unchanged at 3,750.62 points by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent, to 3,283.41.
China CSI300 stock index futures for September rose 0.2 percent to 3,734.4, 16.2 points below the underlying index.
“The statement from the China Iron and Steel Association that steel prices don’t have much room to rise further will have a clear impact on market expectations, and this is feeding into share prices of steel and coal producers today,” said Zhang Gang, an analyst with China Central Securities, referring to a statement by the industry group carried in Chinese media.
“At the same time, a rise in banking and insurance shares is pulling liquidity away from other sectors of the market, making it difficult for the Shanghai index to break through 3,300 in the short term given the lack of clear liquidity or policy signals,” he said.
China Merchants Bank Co Ltd gained 2.2 percent and Ping An Bank Co Ltd rose 2.1 percent. The financials sub-index rose 0.5 percent.
The materials sub-index fell 1.8 percent, with Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd losing 3.2 percent and Aluminum Corp of China Ltd (Chalco) down 2.7 percent.
After two days of limit-up trading, China United Network Communications ended the morning up 0.7 percent in trading volumes nearly three times that of the next-most-traded CSI300 component.
Shares in Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye Automobile Co jumped 5.2 percent following news that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Ford Motor to build a new electric-vehicle brand.
Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd, Ford’s partner for its Changan Ford passenger vehicle joint venture in China, fell 1 percent.
Ford had previously outlined plans to offer hybrid or fully elctric versions by 2025 of all Ford models built in China by Changan Ford.
Trading in Hong Kong was suspended Wednesday as Typhoon Hato lashed southern China.
The index measuring price differences between dual-listed companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong stood at 129.01.
A value above 100 indicates Shanghai shares are pricing at a premium to shares in the same company trading in Hong Kong, and vice versa.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill