China stocks climb as policymakers lift sentiment; start-ups gain

* SSEC +1.6%, CSI300 +1.7, HSI +0.5%, HSCE +0.8%

* Hopes of further policy support shore up confidence

* Start-ups, tech firms power the rebound

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Feb 5 (Reuters) - China stocks rose on Wednesday, with the start-up index leading the recovery, on hopes that Beijing will make a concerted effort to prop up the economy to calm coronavirus fears.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.6% at 2,828.75 points. The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 1.7%. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index rose 0.9%, the consumer staples sector climbed 1.6%, the real estate index was up 1.3% and healthcare shares gained 1%. ** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.8%, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.5% at 26,814.28. ** The smaller Shenzhen index advanced more than 3% and the tech-heavy start-up board index ChiNextP climbed 3.6%, trading at levels last seen before the Lunar New Year holiday - when the epidemic worsened and dented investor sentiment. ** The strong gains in China’s start-up board companies - mainly seen in tech shares - boosted broader market sentiment, said Zhang Gang, an analyst with China Central Securities. ** This helped the rebound in the previous session, which was anchored by expectations that policymakers will roll out more stimulus to offset the impact of the coronavirus, he added. ** Reuters reported on Tuesday Chinese policymakers are readying measures to support an economy jolted by a coronavirus outbreak that is expected to have a devastating impact on first-quarter growth. ** The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China passed 490 on Wednesday, as two U.S. airlines suspended flights to Hong Kong following the first fatality there and 10 cases were confirmed on a quarantined Japanese cruise ship. ** China’s central bank said on Tuesday that its huge liquidity injections through open market operations this week showed its determination to restore market confidence. ** Some listed companies announced share buybacks, while fund managers and their employees also planned to purchase their own funds to buy equities. ** Growth in China’s services sector slowed for a second straight month in January, a traditionally busy sales season, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei index was up 1.3%. ** The onshore yuan was trading down 0.07% at 7.0029 per dollar, as of 0403 GMT. ** As of midday, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 25.15% 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 Sherry Jacob-Phillips