* MSCI ex-Japan rises for a second straight day

* Chinese shares start lower, CSI300 index off 1%

* Dollar softens to two-week lows

* Crude oil prices rise on economic recovery hopes

By Swati Pandey and Chibuike Oguh

SYDNEY/NEW YORK, April 7 (Reuters) – A gauge of Asian shares climbed to three-week highs on Wednesday as investors eyed the upcoming earnings season for further signs of a global economic recovery, while the dollar slipped to a two-week low.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan was up 0.3% for its second straight day of gains. It went as high as 697.01, a level last seen on March 18.

Japan’s Nikkei was a shade higher while Australian shares rose 0.6% and South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.5%.

Chinese shares, however, were weaker with the bluechip CSI300 index down about 1% after a strong rally last week.

“The U.S. economy is experiencing the first effects of a powerful double-dose vaccine of broad inoculation…

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