* Shanghai shares fall 0.7%, CSI300 down 0.6%, end week-long rise
* Record daily deaths in coronavirus epicentre
* China says will cushion epidemic’s economic impact
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Feb 13 (Reuters) - China stocks closed lower on Thursday, after having gained for seven straight sessions, as Hubei province reported a sharp jump in new cases and deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak.
** The Shanghai Composite index ended 0.7% lower at 2,906.07. The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.6%. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index was lower by 0.7%, the consumer staples sector fell 0.6% and the healthcare sub-index lost 1%.
** The smaller Shenzhen index fell 0.8% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by nearly 1%.
** Hubei, the epicentre of the virus, reported a record 242 deaths as of Wednesday, bringing the toll to 1,310. Daily new cases in the province jumped to 14,840, up from 1,638 after it adopted a new method for diagnosing cases. ** The head of the Communist Party in Hubei has been relieved of duty, the official Xinhua news agency reported. ** There is limited room now for any further rise in the market, given the strong rally since last Monday when markets plunged, China Galaxy Securities analyst Fu Yanping said. ** The focus will now turn to Beijing’s policies and the impact of the virus outbreak than on China’s economic growth, Fu said. ** China’s ruling Communist Party said earlier this week it would take steps to halt the spread of the virus and counter its economic impact, state broadcaster CCTV reported. ** Beijing is expected to further step up counter-cyclical measures as the impact of the epidemic on China’s economy gradually emerges, Guosheng Securities said. ** Chinese policymakers have already implemented a series of measures to support the economy since the coronavirus outbreak began.
** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.2%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.1%.
** At 0702 GMT, the yuan was 0.18% weaker at 6.984 per U.S. dollar.
** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 4.7% and the CSI300 has fallen 3.3%. Shanghai stocks have declined 2.4% this month.
** About 27.48 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 24.87 billion.
** 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 Uttaresh.V)