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Market sinks below 2,400 mark at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index extended its losses and dropped below the 2,400 points barrier in the morning session, following tumbles in surrounding markets.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.69 percent, or 16.68 points, to close at 2,388.67 points.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, lost 0.17 percent to close at 793.56 points.

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 5.83 percent to 5.33 yuan. Hainan Airlines Co slumped 5.06 percent to 5.07 yuan. Air China Ltd slid 2.71 percent to 6.1 yuan.

Gold producers were weak. Shandong Gold Mining Co dropped 8.02 percent to 37.86 yuan. Zhongjin Gold Corp sank 6.4 percent to 57.67 yuan. Zijin Mining Group Co shed 5.94 percent to 8.87 yuan.

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

Lenders showed mixed performances on their earnings reports. Industrial Bank Co added 2 percent to 21.94 yuan while China Merchants Bank Co dipped 0.46 percent to 15.14 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co eased 0.58 percent to 20.94 yuan.

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

China Coal Energy Co added 0.33 percent to 24.51 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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