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Airline price hikes help market take off

SHANGHAI'S key stock index added more than 2 percent today, led by airlines with rise in fares.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index advanced 2.14 percent, or 53.52 points, to close at 2,557.46 points. Turnover was 140.5 billion yuan (US$20.5 billion). Gainers outnumbered losers 781 to 63 and 64 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, rose 2.25 percent to close at 864.79 points.

Chinese airlines will increase ticket prices from today, the state-run Central Television reported yesterday. Airlines will offer fewer discounts under a new ticket-pricing system, CCTV said. Ticket prices will increase by an average 20 percent.

PetroChina, the largest oil producer and biggest heavyweight in the market, rose 2.23 percent to 11.93 yuan. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner, advanced 4.18 percent to 9.97 yuan.

Air China, the nation's largest international carrier, surged 8.64 percent to 7.29 yuan. China Southern Airlines Co, the nation's biggest carrier by fleet size, climbed 5.85 percent to 6.33 yuan. Hainan Airlines Co hiked 7.44 percent to 6.21 yuan and Shanghai Airlines Co rose 5.06 percent to 4.98 yuan.

The government's stimulus plan has shown "better-than-expected" results in reviving growth and helping restore market confidence, Premier Wen Jiabao said at the Boao forum over the weekend.

China's economy grew 6.1 percent in the first quarter, urban fixed-asset investment and industrial productions expanded, and loans rose amid record car sales in March.

Bank of China added 1.14 percent to 3.56 yuan. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, rose 1.22 percent to 4.16 yuan. Bank of Communications was up 1.91 percent to 6.95 yuan.

Haitong Securities Co advanced 1.59 percent to 14.07 yuan after a two-day suspension from April 16. The brokerage said first-quarter profit rose 11 percent from a year earlier.

Wuhan Iron & Steel Co, China's fifth-biggest steelmaker by value, posted a lower profit in the first three months. The company said first-half net income will fall more than 50 percent from a year earlier. Its shares edged up 0.14 percent to 7.40 yuan.


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