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Financial sector leads Shanghai shares higher

SHANGHAI'S key stock index closed slightly higher today on the strength of the financial sector.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.37 percent, or 7.43 points, to close at 1,994.11 points. Turnover was 55.5 billion yuan (US$8.11 billion), down from yesterday's 81.1 billion yuan. Gainers outnumbered losers 434 to 292 and 82 did not change.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 0.92 percent, or 5.56 points, to close at 606.81 points.

Industrial Bank Co advanced 3.26 percent to 18.68 yuan. Bank of Communications added 2.77 percent to 5.56 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank was up 1.50 percent to close at 16.20 yuan.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner which is also known as Sinopec, reversed morning losses and ended up 1.41 percent to close at 7.91 yuan. Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., the country's biggest steel maker, added 1.71 percent to 5.35 yuan.

Brokerages were also favored by investors. Haitong Securities, the country's second-largest listed brokerage by market value, surged 9.06 percent to 11.56 yuan. Citic Securities Co, the brokerage unit of China's biggest investment company, added 2.46 percent to close at 21.26 yuan. Changjiang Securities Co Ltd rallied 5.38 percent to 10.96 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 dipped 0.33 percent to 30.24 yuan.

Airline companies showed mixed results. Shanghai Airlines Co, the city's second-largest carrier said its losses in 2008 would be more than double those in 2007 because of wrong-way bets on fuel hedging. Its shares still surged 7.56 percent to 5.55 yuan however. China Eastern Airlines Co, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size, has received a 10 billion yuan line of credit form Shanghai Pudong Development Co, according to a report by Xinhua news agency. Its stock retreated 4.71 percent to 5.06 yuan.


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