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Key stock index drops nearly 1.8%

SHANGHAI'S key stock index dropped nearly 1.8 percent yesterday to close just over 2,400 points, led by declines in financial shares and heavyweights.

The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.77 percent, or 43.25 points, to close at 2,405.35 points. Turnover was 103.1 billion yuan (US$15.1 billion). Losers outnumbered gainers 754 to 101 and 53 stocks were flat.

Shanghai's economic growth dropped to 3.1 percent in the first quarter, compared with 11.53 percent in the year-earlier period, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau revealed over the weekend. It was also slower than the 6.1 percent growth in the national economy in the first three months.

"Investors are exaggerating some of the risks in the market and we think China's economy is turning to recovery and investors don't need to panic," Donghai Securities wrote in a note.

China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co, the nation's third-largest insurer, said first-quarter net income plunged 89 percent from a year earlier to 200 million yuan. Its shares buckled 7 percent to 16.73 yuan.

China State Shipbuilding Co, the country's biggest shipbuilder, said first-quarter net income dived 36 percent from a year earlier to 623 million yuan. The stock lost 6.96 percent to 60.69 yuan.

Shanghai International Port Group posted a 28-percent drop in first-quarter profit to 734 million yuan, or 0.035 yuan a share. The stock sank 4.27 percent to close at 5.16 yuan.

Banks showed mixed results. The Bank of China edged up 0.29 percent to 3.46 yuan, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, slipped 0.75 percent to end at 3.99 yuan and the Bank of Communications declined 2.03 percent to close at 6.28 yuan.


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