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Metal and steel weigh heavily on market at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index continued yesterday's losses in the morning trade after falls among metal and steel producers.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.44 percent, or 10.28 points, to close at 2,347.76 points. Turnover was 69.5 billion yuan (US$10.16 billion). Losers outnumbered gainers 590 to 268 and 50 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, dipped 0.55 percent to close at 773.09 points.

China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement that it will review Ningbo QL Electronics Co's listing application of April 3, which would add pressure to the market as capital is likely to be distracted from existing shares. The regulator hasn't approved any initial public offering since September.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co lost 1.9 percent after China's biggest steelmaker said second-quarter product prices will stay at "low levels." Angang Steel Co, China's second-largest steelmaker by market value, lost 2.26 percent to 8.21 yuan.

Jiangxi Copper Co, the country's top producer of the metal, lost 1.28 percent to 23.14 yuan. Yunnan Copper Co was down 1.65 percent to 21.25 yuan.

Financial shares were among the gainers. China Life Insurance Co Ltd, the country's largest life insurance company, surged 3.35 percent to 22.80 yuan. China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co Ltd hiked 6.10 percent to 16.18 yuan.

China State Shipbuilding Co, the country's biggest shipbuilder, said 2008 profit increased 49 percent as it delivered ships contracted at higher prices. Its shares however dropped 2.55 percent to 55.79 yuan.

Cosco Shipping Co, a unit of China's biggest shipping company, said its 2008 net profit rose 35 percent as a result of an increasing number of shipments. The stock fell 1.14 percent to 9.57 yuan.


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