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Banks, metal firms lead index higher at mid day

SHANGHAI'S key stock index rallied in the morning session as the government opened discussions today on plans to revive the country's 10 major sectors.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.45 percent, or 27.06 points, to 1890.42 points.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 1.69 percent, or 9.67 points, to 581.29 points.

Lenders led the gains. Bank of Nanjing Co, the Chinese bank partly owned by BNP Paribas SA, said 2008 profit may have risen 70 percent to 909.5 million yuan ($133.1 million) on higher interest income and fees. The stock rose 3.74 percent, to 8.88 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co soared 4.22 percent to 14.58 yuan.

Metals shares advanced after executives said the government may buy zinc to support the industry and copper prices rebounded.

The Chinese government may buy about 100,000 metric tons of zinc from domestic smelters at a meeting held today to bolster the industry after prices plunged, one executive said.

Zhuzhou Smelter Group Co, China's biggest zinc smelter, and seven other producers are reportedly meeting in Beijing to discuss buying the metal.

Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Co, China's fourth-largest zinc producer, surged 6.21 percent to 9.92 yuan. Jiangxi Copper Co, the nation's second-biggest producer of the metal, was up 4.14 percent to 12.33 yuan.

Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co, China's biggest copper producer, gained 3.14 percent to 7.55 yuan. Copper futures for March delivery added 3.9 percent to $1.547 a pound in New York yesterday.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co inched up 0.4 percent to 4.98 yuan on expectations the steel maker will be able to raise contract prices.

BOE Technology Group Co, China's biggest maker of liquid-crystal-display panels said China's decision to raise import taxes will aid its efforts to win customers in its home market. The stock gained 1.81 percent to 2.81 yuan.

PetroChina Co, the nation's biggest oil company, added 0.6 percent to 10.08 yuan after UBS Securities Asia Ltd said it increased outputs of crude oil by 2.8 percent and natural gas by 16 percent last year.

On the losing side, Shanghai Shenhua Holdings Co, whose units trade automobiles and develop real estate, fell 1.11 percent to 2.67 yuan after warning that 2008 profit probably tumbled more than 50 percent.


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