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Chinese shares end higher on better-than-expected trade data

* Shanghai Composite Index +1.59%

* Blue-chip CSI300 index +1.93%

* China exports fall less-than-expected 6.6% in March

SHANGHAI, April 14 (Reuters) - China shares rose on Tuesday after the country released trade data that showed a smaller-than-expected contraction from a year earlier, giving investors hope for an economic recovery despite the continued global spread of the novel coronavirus. ** China’s exports fell 6.6% in March from a year earlier, while imports shrank 0.9%, a better-than-expected outcome as factories restarted production, though the global coronavirus health crisis looks set to keep trade under pressure over coming months. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.59% at 2,827.28. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 1.93%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 1.67%, the consumer staples sector up 1.98%, the real estate index rose 2.08% and the healthcare sub-index gained 1.88%. ** “The correction in the A-share market from March has finished, as China’s coronavirus outbreak has basically ended, while there are signs the outbreak in U.S. and Europe is peaking,” said Yan Kaiwen, analyst with China Fortune Securities. ** China reported 89 new coronavirus cases on April 13, down from 108 the previous day, the health authority said. ** China has approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines to combat the new coronavirus as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from neighbouring Russia, the new “front line” in the war on COVID-19. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 2.22% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index rose 3.242%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index gained 1.26%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 3.13%. ** At 0727 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.053 per U.S. dollar. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 7.3% and the CSI300 has fallen 6.6%, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is down 11.7%. Shanghai stocks have risen 2.8% this month. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)