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Insurance plan encourages investors at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index rose in the morning session, led by Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, after reports that regulators may allow insurers to invest in real estate and property-related securities.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.28 percent, or 7.21 points, to close at 2,543.02 points.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 0.44 percent to close at 852.31 points.

Ping An Insurance Co, China's second-largest insurer, added 0.27 percent to 41.1 yuan. China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co gained 1.86 percent to 18.65 yuan. China Life Insurance Co, the nation's biggest insurer, added 0.5 percent to 24.20 yuan.

China's insurance regulator plans to start a trial program to let insurers invest in property, or securities backed by loans and real estate investment trusts. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission will carry out research and announce when it will start the program, it said yesterday.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the nation's biggest bank, increased 1.7 percent to 4.19 yuan after the central bank said there are signs of an economic recovery. China Merchants Bank Co, the nation's fifth-largest bank by market value, jumped 0.75 percent to 16.14 yuan after saying its board has approved the company's plan to sell bonds worth less than 10 percent of its total debts over three years. Bank of China Ltd surged 1.7 percent to 3.59 yuan.

People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Yi Gang said there are signs of economic recovery in China as the government stimulus packages take effect. Lending is growing at a rapid rate, bad loans are at historical lows and the financial system is sound, Yi told bankers at a derivatives industry meeting in Beijing today.

Datang International Power Generation Co, a unit of China's second-biggest electricity producer, edged up 0.92 percent to 7.65 yuan. GD Power Development Co, the largest electricity producer in northeastern China, climbed 1.27 percent to 6.38 yuan.

Bucking the upward trend, Zijin Mining Group Co plunged 2.88 percent to 10.13 yuan and Zhongjin Gold Corp eased 2.33 percent to 56.11 yuan after metal prices dropped.

Huaneng Power International Inc, the listed unit of China's largest power group, dipped 0.25 percent. The company said its first-quarter net income more than doubled.


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