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Inflation fears drive down index

SHANGHAI'S key stock index ended lower today on fears that February's consumer price index to be released tomorrow will show more inflationary pressure.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.66 percent, or 20.21 points, to close at 3,048.93 points. Turnover stood at 98.7 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion) from 107.6 billion yuan. Losing stocks outnumbered gainers 671 to 203 and 16 counters remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 1.04 percent to close at 1,164.91 points.

February Consumer Price Index together with the Producer Price Index and fixed-asset investment will be disclosed tomorrow. According to the median of 29 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey, consumer prices will rise 2.5 percent in February from a year before, outpacing 1.5 percent growth in January.

Meanwhile, the General Administration of Customs said today China's exports jumped 45.7 percent from a year earlier in February to US$94.5 billion, beating market expectation and fanned speculation on the withdrawal of stimulus packages.

Auto makers led the decliners after the growth of vehicle sales lost steam in February. China's vehicle sales were 27 percent lower last month than in January. Analysts expect the market will grow at a more moderate pace this year.

Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co retreated 1 percent to 11.24 yuan. SAIC Motor Corp withdrew 3.7 percent to 21.13 yuan and Beiqi Foton Motor Co plunged 2.4 percent to 20.09 yuan. Faw Car Co decreased 3 percent to 23.3 yuan.

Property developers dropped and almost pared yesterday's gain. Shanghai Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone eased 1.6 percent to 23.8 yuan. Shanghai-based Shimao Co lowered 2.3 percent to 14.65 yuan. Poly Real Estate Group declined 1.8 percent to 19.91 yuan.


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