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Blue chips drag index lower at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index dipped more than one percent in the morning session as blue chips suffered losses.

The Shanghai Composite Index was down 1.36 percent, or 27.05 points, to 1,959.62 points at 11:30am. Turnover was 25.9 billion yuan (US$3.79 billion). Losing shares outnumbered gainers 651 to 120 and 57 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, dipped 0.80 percent, or 4.81 points, to 596.44 points.

China's major economic data for 2008 will be announced on Thursday and GDP for the fourth quarter of last year may fall to the lowest in six years.

Investors remain pessimistic about listed companies' profit outlook for 2009.

PetroChina, the biggest index component, was down 1.89 percent to 10.37 yuan. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner, lowered 1.28 percent to 7.70 yuan.

China Eastern Airlines Co, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size, has received a 10 billion yuan credit line form Shanghai Pudong Development Co, according to a report by Xinhua news agency. Its stock retreated 7.16 percent to close at 4.93 yuan.

Citic Securities Co, the brokerage unit of China's biggest investment company, declined 1.01 percent to 20.54 yuan. Haitong Securities, the country's second-largest listed brokerage by market value, edged up 0.66 percent to 10.67 yuan.

Banks showed mixed results in morning trading. China Citic Bank Corp said its profit for 2008 may increase 60 percent on higher net interest income and fees. Its shares, however, fell 1.47 percent to 4.02 yuan. Industrial Bank Co edged up 0.88 percent to 18.25 yuan. Bank of China fell 1.94 percent to 3.04 yuan.

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co said its life insurance unit booked a total of 101.2 billion yuan in premium income last year. Its shares dropped 2.34 percent to 29.63 yuan.


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