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Poor corporate reports drag down market at midday

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

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.13 percent, or 3.17 points, to close at 2,371.26 points. Turnover stood at 69.65 billion yuan (US$10.24 billion). Gainers outnumbered losers 489 to 341 and 36 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 0.16 percent to close at 779.8 points.

Aluminum Corp of China, the nation's biggest producer of the metal tumbled 3.49 percent 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 of last year, compared with a profit of 1.49 billion yuan a year before, as the global economic meltdown dented demand for metals. Aluminum futures plummeted 35 percent last year in Shanghai.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, China's largest steelmaker, retreated 2.18 percent to 5.82 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 6.32 percent to 19.41 yuan after saying 2008 profit shrank 38 percent to 895 million yuan.

China Construction Bank Corp slid 0.23 percent to 4.35 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.

Bucking the downward trend, Sinolink Securities Co soared 9.13 percent to 33.95 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 2.8 percent to 6.62 yuan.


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