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Flu fears cause market to flutter

SHANGHAI'S key stock index extended its losses and barely reached the 2,400 points barrier today, following tumbles in surrounding markets on concerns the swine flu outbreak would deal another blow to the world's economy.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.16 percent, or 3.91 points, to close at 2,401.44 points.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, added 0.42 percent to close at 798.30 points.

"World concerns are rising that the spread of swine flu might bring huge economic losses to the world economy," Orient Securities Co wrote in a research note. "Swine flu has already done some damage to the tourism and air business. But the medicine sector has benefited."

China Southern Airlines Co led airlines down after reporting its first quarter profit fell 71 percent. The nation's biggest carrier by fleet size tumbled 6.18 percent to 5.31 yuan. Hainan Airlines Co slumped 3.93 percent to 5.13 yuan. Air China Ltd slid 2.71 percent to 6.10 yuan.

Gold producers also contributed to the losses. Shandong Gold Mining Co dived 8.21 percent to 37.78 yuan. Zhongjin Gold Corp sank 5.05 percent to 58.50 yuan. Zijin Mining Group Co shed 7.21 percent to 8.75 yuan.

Bucking the downward trend, medicine producers continued to soar as swine flu affected more people in more countries. Several medicine producers jumped by the 10 percent daily cap including Jiangsu SOPO chemical Co, Shenzhen Neptunus Bioengineering Co and Guilin Layn Natural Ingredients Corp.

Lenders had mixed performances on their earnings reports. Industrial Bank Co added 2.28 percent to 22 yuan while China Merchants Bank Co dipped 0.13 percent to 15.19 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co gained 1.1 percent to 21.05 yuan.

Elsewhere, Angang Steel Co plunged 3.53 percent to 8.2 yuan on shrinking profits in the first quarter due to slowing global demand and rising raw material prices.

China Coal Energy Co added 1.31 percent to 10.02 yuan. The nation's second-largest coal producer said first-quarter profit fell 3.6 percent on reduced production and sales.


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