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Finance sector gives market a lift

SHANGHAI'S key stock index surged more than 3 percent to above 2,300 points with gains in the finance sector.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index hiked 3.06 percent, or 70.15 points, to close at 2,361.70 points. Turnover was 142.1 billion yuan (US$20.8 billion). Gainers outnumbered losers 827 to 38 and 43 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 2.24 percent to close at 774.04 points.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, said its profit for 2008 added 36.3 percent to reach 110.7 billion yuan. Its shares hiked 5.84 percent to 3.99 yuan. Bank of China advanced 3.54 percent to 3.51 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development jumped 4.58 percent to 21.71 yuan.

Haitong Securities advanced 4.20 percent to 13.40 yuan. Sinolink Securities lifted 3.31 percent to 31.24 yuan.

Shipping companies and port operators were also strong after the State Council announced yesterday that Shanghai will be a major international shipping hub.

It also called for the integration of port resources in the Yangtze River Delta region. Shanghai International Port (Group) Co Ltd surged the daily limit of 10 percent to 4.94 yuan. China Shipping Container Lines Co hiked 9.94 percent to 3.98 yuan. Cosco Shipping Co Ltd jumped 4.94 percent to 9.98 yuan.

Oil producers recovered from the losses of the morning. PetroChina, the largest oil producer and biggest heavyweight in the market, posted its first drop in full-year profit since 2001 after refining losses widened fourfold and crude oil prices slumped. Its stock edged up 0.86 percent to 11.67 yuan. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner and also known as Sinopec, said it estimates 2008 net income fell by about 50 percent. Its shares advanced 2.61 percent to 9.05 yuan.

China Life Insurance Co, the nation's biggest insurer posted its first annual profit drop in five years after the stock market slump hurt investment returns even as premiums increased. Its shares was up 2.67 percent to 22.72 yuan.

TCL Corp, the nation's biggest publicly traded consumer-electronics maker said 2008 profits rose 27 percent to 501 million yuan on increased sales of flat-panel televisions. Its shares were up 2.31 percent to 3.55 yuan.


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