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Poor corporate outlook shakes stocks

SHANGHAI'S key stock index dipped today as corporate earnings were hurt by the global credit crunch and economic slowdown.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.69 percent, or 16.4 points, to close at 2,358.04 points. Turnover shrank to 126.97 billion yuan (US$18.67 billion) from 162.37 billion yuan. Gainers almost pared losers 428 to 424 while 24 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 0.15 percent to close at 777.39 points.

Aluminum Corp of China, the nation's biggest producer of the metal tumbled 3.76 percent to 10.49 yuan after saying it would post a loss in the first quarter because of lower metal prices and output.

The Beijing-based company lost 2.57 million yuan in the fourth quarter last year, compared with a profit of 1.49 billion yuan a year before, as the global economic meltdown dented the demand for metals. Aluminum futures plummeted 35 percent last year in Shanghai.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, China's largest steelmaker, retreated 2.52 percent to 5.8 yuan as profits for last year nearly halved after price falls, missing analysts' median estimates.

Minmetals Development Co, a unit of China's biggest state-owned metals trader, dived 7.19 percent to 19.23 yuan after saying 2008 profit shrank 38 percent to 895 million yuan.

China Construction Bank Corp was off 1.15 percent to 4.31 yuan. The world's second-largest lender by market value said fourth-quarter profit fell 30 percent to 8.37 billion yuan, missing analysts' estimates, after increasing provisions to cover loan delinquencies.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's biggest refiner eased 1.32 percent to 8.97 yuan despite the company's projection of a 50 percent surge in first-quarter profit after the government relaxed fuel-price controls and crude oil costs fell.

China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd, the nation's biggest coal producer, shed 0.82 percent to 20.52 yuan. Profit in 2008 reached 26.6 billion yuan after it increased production to benefit from soaring energy prices.

Bucking the downward trend, Sinolink Securities Co soared by the 10 percent daily cap to 34.22 yuan after reporting its 2008 profit had doubled to 756.2 million yuan.

GD Power Development Co said its 2008 profit dropped 90 percent to 178.9 million yuan on soaring raw material costs and falling output. GD Power added 0.93 percent to 6.5 yuan.


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