HONG KONG, April 17 (Reuters) -

Chinese stocks rose on Wednesday, as the nation's top securities regulator clarified the new delisting rules to calm the market panic following a sell-off in small-cap shares. Hong Kong stocks edged down.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said late Tuesday that tighter rules would not spark a wave of delistings.

The regulator also refuted the view that latest delisting rules would hit small caps, saying that only about 30 companies would be delisted next year under the new regulation.

China's small-cap CSI 2000 INDEX surged 5.5% by midday to lead the gains.

Meanwhile, UBS upgraded 2024 real GDP growth forecast to 4.9% from 4.6% on Wednesday, due to the better first quarter economic data and stronger export outlook.

** At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.24% at 3,044.26 points.

** China's blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.69%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.74%, the consumer staples sector down 0.13%, the real estate index up 1.15% and the healthcare sub-index up 1.18%.

** Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.02% to 5,744.75, while the Hang Seng Index was down 0.07% at 16,238.09.

** The smaller Shenzhen index was up 2.77%, the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.34% and Shanghai's tech-focused STAR50 index was up 1.86%.

** Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.34% while Japan's Nikkei index was down 0.32%.

** The yuan was quoted at 7.2396 per U.S. dollar, 0.02% weaker than the previous close of 7.238. (Reporting by Summer Zhen; Editing by Rashmi Aich)