* Shanghai shares add 0.9%, blue-chips up 0.8%
* New daily cases fall to lowest in almost 2 weeks
* Country’s top medical adviser predicts epidemic end in April
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Chinese shares closed higher for the seventh straight session on Wednesday after officials reported the lowest daily increase in coronavirus infection cases in nearly two weeks, calming investor nerves over the epidemic’s economic impact.
** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.9% at 2,926.90. The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.8%. The indexes also gained in the previous six trading days. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index rose 0.4%, the consumer staples sector was up 0.2%, the real estate index edged down 0.2% and the healthcare sub-index was up 1.5%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 1.6% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index rose 2.8%. ** The start-up board index has outperformed other major indexes this month as investors favour firms that benefit from lower borrowing costs and have strong growth prospects. ** Across mainland China, there were 2,015 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, the lowest since Jan. 30 when there were 1,982 new confirmed cases, lending credence to a prediction from the country’s senior medical adviser that the outbreak could be over by April. ** Beijing’s policies are the core variable at the moment, Zhang Zhong, an analyst with Guolian Securities wrote in a report, adding that the Chinese economy will quickly stabilise after the virus outbreak gets under control. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.8%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.7%. ** At 0719 GMT, the yuan was flat at 6.9661 per U.S. dollar. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Shandong Jinjing Science & Technology Stock Co Ltd , Routon Electronic Co Ltd and EGing Photovoltaic Technology Co Ltd, all up by about 10.1%. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 4% and the CSI300 has fallen 2.7%. Shanghai stocks have declined 1.7% this month. ** About 24.87 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 26.92 billion. ** As of 07:20 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 23.39% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The Shanghai stock index is below its 50-day moving average and below its 200-day moving average. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Noah Sin; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)