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Earnings reports put pressure on index

SHANGHAI'S key stock index ended slightly lower yesterday, amid growing concerns that financial numbers to be released soon would show worsening corporate performance.

The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.24 percent, or 4.51 points, to close at 1,900.35 points.

Gainers outnumbered losers 630 to 286 while 43 stocks remained unchanged. Turnover stood at 59.5 billion yuan (US$8.75 billion).

The benchmark index rose at the midday close after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said over the weekend that macro-economic figures for December would be better than expected. Wen also said that there are plans to introduce more measures to boost economic growth.

Meanwhile, companies will release their annual earnings reports from Thursday. According to financial Website, about half of the companies out of 597 have predicted annual losses for last year. Analysts forecast a downward trend for corporate profitability until at leas0074 the first quarter.

"Shares opened lower in the wake of weak United States stocks and a lack of positive measures over the weekend," Shenyin Wanguo Securities Co wrote in a note. "Shares on the mid and small board were actively traded despite a slack market sentiment overall. Financial figures and corporate earnings to be disclosed put the index under pressure."

Among decliners were developers and airlines. China Eastern Airlines Corp, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size, fell 0.89 percent to 4.44 yuan after it lost 6.2 billion yuan in hedging deals and warned that last year's losses would be significant.

Bucking the downward trend, Yunnan Copper Industry Co led gains among metals shares after copper prices jumped by the daily limit while Huadian Power International Corp, a unit of China's fourth-biggest power generator, added 1.85 percent to 3.85 yuan.


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