SHANGHAI, Oct 13 (Reuters) – China’s stocks reversed early losses to close firmer on Tuesday, as sentiment was lifted by strong domestic trade performances, which signalled that Chinese exporters are making a brisk recovery from the pandemic’s hit to overseas orders.

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** Automobile sales in China rose 12.8% in September from the same month last year, showed official data released on Tuesday, marking the sixth consecutive month of gains, as the world’s biggest vehicle market comes off lows hit during the coronavirus lockdown.

** Sentiment was also underpinned by trade data, which showed China’s imports grew at their fastest pace this year in September, while exports extended their strong gains as more trading partners lifted coronavirus restrictions in a further boost to the world’s second-biggest economy. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.04% at 3,359.75. The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.33%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.67% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.264%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.29%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.18%. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Beiqi Foton Motor Co Ltd, up 10.18%, followed by Jilin Forest Industry Co Ltd, gaining 10.03% and Suzhou Etron Technologies Co Ltd, up by 10.01%. (Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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