BEIJING, Sept 17 (Reuters) - China shares ended weaker on Thursday, with healthcare and consumer firms leading the losses amid sell-off pressure after a wave of new listings, while weakness in hog-farming companies dragged agricultural stocks lower. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.41% at 3,270.44, while the blue-chip CSI300 index lost 0.53% to 4,632.71. ** Healthcare and consumer sector shares fell with the consumer staples sector losing 2.38% and the healthcare sub-index down 2.12%. ** Shares in China's major hog-farming companies also dropped on worries over rising costs after corn prices spiked. The agricultural sub-index was down 1.5%.
** Expected production losses have pushed Chinese corn futures to a record high and stoked worries over supply shortages in the world's second-largest consumer of the grain. ** The A-share market is under sell-off pressure due to recent wave of new listings, but the selling momentum has weakened due to short of funds, according to Zhang Qi, analyst with Haitong Securities Co. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.08% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index closed higher by 0.099%. ** Despite challenges and lingering uncertainties on resurgence of the pandemic, China's economy is set to grow this year despite the fallout from the coronavirus, Premier Li Keqiang said at an online event hosted by the World Economic Forum late Tuesday. ** On the global front, U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low for a long time but stopped short of offering further stimulus to shore up a battered U.S. economy. ** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.58%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed down 0.67%. ** At 0712 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.7667 per U.S. dollar, 0.16% weaker than the previous close of 6.756.
(Reporting by Cheng Leng in Beijing, Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)