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Profit concerns spread market gloom at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index fell in the morning session, dropping to its longest losing streak in five weeks, on concerns that the pick-up in corporate profits might be slower than expected.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 1 percent, or 24.66 points, to close at 2,436.68 points.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 1.08 percent to close at 810.32 points.

China Cosco Holdings Co, the world's largest operator of dry-bulk ships, tumbled 3.37 percent to 12.6 yuan after its 2008 profit fell 43 percent to 10.8 billion yuan, based on domestic
accounting standards. It said it is in talks to delay or cancel orders for new vessels as the global recession hammers demand for shipments of coal, grains and iron ore.

China Shipping Container Lines Co, the country's second-largest carrier of sea-cargo boxes, slid 3.27 percent to 4.14 yuan after forecasting a first-quarter loss. The company expects to report a first-quarter loss as world trade and freight rates collapse.

China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp, the nation's biggest maker of trains, declined 3.21 percent to 4.52 yuan after 2008 profit fell 48 percent as sales of freight wagons slumped.

TCL Corp, China's biggest publicly traded consumer-electronics maker, slumped 6.63 percent to 3.66 yuan. TCL said its first-quarter net income may fall about 96 percent from a year ago to between 14 million yuan and 16 million yuan.

Air China Ltd, China's second-biggest carrier, said direct flights between the country and Taiwan may more than double to 216 a week. Officials from the two governments are scheduled to meet on April 26 to talk about "economic matters," during which increasing the number of direct flights may be discussed. Its shares dipped 0.59 percent to 6.77 yuan.

China Minsheng Banking Corp, the nation's first privately owned bank, reported its first-quarter profit gained 1.6 percent after it accelerated loan advances to smaller companies following the government's stimulus measures. The bank also said its 2009 net income may rise 35 percent to 10.6 billion yuan (US$1.55 billion) from a year earlier. The stock dropped 3.72 percent to 5.44 yuan.


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