* Shanghai shares add 0.2 pct, blue chips up 0.4 pct
* Trade talks continue; softer U.S. stance on March 1 deadline
* China rolls out policy support for agriculture, shares jump
HONG KONG, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Shares in China edged higher on Wednesday as the United States and China pressed ahead with their crunch talks on trade.
** The Shanghai Composite Index settled 0.2 percent higher at 2,761.22 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 gained 0.4 percent. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index gained 0.7 percent, the consumer staples sector lost 0.5 percent, while energy shares advanced 0.7 percent. ** The smaller Shenzhen index edged up 0.3 percent while the start-up board ChiNext Composite index rose 0.2 percent. ** Beijing and Washington started a new round of talks on Tuesday with sessions at a higher level later in the week. U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1. ** On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump again suggested that he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a “magical” date. Investors expect a deal to be reached next month. ** Shares in China’s agricultural companies jumped after the Chinese government said it will deepen reforms of the sector to promote its rural economy, the government said in its first policy statement of 2019. ** Shanghai stocks rose slightly on Wednesday, as investors pocketed gains driven by trade talk optimism. Resistance after the rally was expected, Wei Yi, an analyst at Kaiyuan Securities, said in a note on Wednesday. Investors are “not psychologically prepared” for another round of sudden rise, said the analyst. ** Trading volume in Shanghai rose on Tuesday to 28.5 billion shares, from 26 billion on Monday. It stood at 24.6 billion at close on Wednesday. ** The offshore yuan hit a two-week high overnight and the onshore yuan was quoted at 6.7226 per U.S. dollar at 0726 GMT, 0.55 percent stronger from the previous close, after a Bloomberg report on Tuesday suggested that the United States is seeking to secure a pledge from China that it will not devalue its yuan as part of an agreement to end the trade war. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index rose nearly 1 percent while Japan’s Nikkei index gained 0.6 percent. ** The Shanghai stock index is above both its 50-day moving average and its 200-day moving average. ** The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai composite index were Changshu Fengfan Power Equipment Co Ltd and Pengqi Technology Development Co Ltd, both up 10.1 percent, followed by Shaanxi Broadcast & TV Network Intermediary Group Co Ltd, up 10 percent. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)