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Oil price rise helps spur market at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index closed higher in the morning trade with gains in oil producers after the country lifted the basic prices for fuel.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.32 percent, or 7.48 points, to close at 2,345.90 points as of 11:30am. Turnover was 67.1 billion yuan (US$9.8 billion). Losers outnumbered gainers 470 to 389 and 49 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, edged up 0.20 percent to close at 775.86 points.

The National Development and Reform Commission yesterday announced the first fuel price rise in nine months yesterday, saying it was a result of the recent rise in global crude oil prices. From today the price of gasoline rose by 290 yuan to 5,730 yuan a ton and diesel by 180 yuan to 4,990 yuan a ton.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner and also known as Sinopec, advanced 1.69 percent to 9.02 yuan. PetroChina, the largest oil producer and biggest heavyweight in the market, edged up 0.76 yuan.

Banks had mixed results. Bank of China, the world's third-largest lender by market value said 2008 profit grew 14 percent, the slowest pace in three years as a result of writedowns of US mortgage investments and low profitability. The stock dipped 0.29 percent to 3.46 yuan. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, lowered 0.26 percent to 3.82 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank hiked 3.42 percent to 21.18 yuan. Bank of Communications edged up 0.67 percent to 5.97 yuan.

Metal producers were also strong in the first half of trading. Jiangxi Copper Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, advanced 3.55 percent to 23.32 yuan. Aluminum Corporation of China Ltd added 1.31 percent to 10.83 yuan. Shangdong Gold Mining Co Ltd jumped 3.93 percent to 83.60 yuan.

Kweichow Moutai Co, the maker of the liquor used at official banquets, said 2008 profit rose 34 percent from a year earlier to 3.8 billion yuan.

Shanghai Bashi Industrial Group Co, the city-controlled bus company said Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp won't sell 338 million of the company's shares. Its shares added 2.38 percent to 6.88 yuan.


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