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Oil and copper spark market cheer

SHANGHAI'S key stock index ended the week with a rise of nearly 3 percent yesterday, led by commodity producers, after oil and copper prices climbed.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.7 percent, or 64.35 points, to close at 2,444.23 points. Turnover further swelled to 155.51 billion yuan (US$22.87 billion) from 106.66 billion yuan on the previous trading day. Almost all of the 855 shares gained with only 14 declining.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 3.49 percent to close at 820.84 points.

Jiangxi Copper Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, advanced by the 10 percent daily cap to 25.72 yuan after prices of the metal rose to the highest in five months. Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co, China's second-biggest copper producer, climbed 8.59 percent to 16.06 yuan. PetroChina Co, the nation's biggest oil company, added 1.68 percent to 11.48 yuan.

Crude oil for May delivery rose US$2.86 to settle at US$52.24 a barrel in New York yesterday, as better-than-expected earnings boosted expectations the economy was stabilizing. Copper futures for May delivery added 3.6 percent to US$2.071 a pound in New York.

China Southern Airlines Co, the nation's biggest carrier, and other domestic airlines rose in Shanghai after the aviation regulator forecast a profit for the industry.

China Southern increased 10 percent to 5.79 yuan. Air China Ltd rose 7.73 percent to 6.69 yuan while China Eastern Airlines Corp gained 6.06 percent to 5.6 yuan.

Chinese airlines and airport operators will rebound to a profit this year after a record 25.2 billion yuan loss in 2008, said Li Jiaxiang, director of Civil Aviation Administration of China, yesterday. The domestic aviation industry may have made a combined first-quarter profit of between 800 million and 1 billion yuan as traffic recovered, Li said.

China Merchants Bank Co, the nation's fifth-largest by market value, rose 1.64 percent to 16.14 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co, the Chinese partner of Citigroup Inc, dipped 0.86 percent to 22.22 yuan. Merchants Bank said 2008 profit rose 38 percent while Pudong Bank's net income more than doubled. Separately, Pudong Bank said it plans to raise up to 15 billion yuan through a private share placement and it will also sell another 15 billion yuan in subordinate debt.


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