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Property and exports spread market gloom

SHANGHAI'S key stock index fell nearly 4 percent today as developers retreated on concern property prices will fail to recover and after a report said exports declined further in March.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged down 3.76 percent, or 91.8 points, to close at 2,347.39 points. Turnover rose to 135.64 billion yuan (US$19.95 billion) from 116.79 billion yuan last Friday. Losers outnumbered gainers 761 to 111 while only one stock remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 3.29 percent to close at 780.46 points.

Gemdale Corp, a Chinese developer that's setting up a real-estate venture with UBS AG, lost 6.98 percent after real estate broker E-House (China) Holding Ltd said housing prices will be stagnant through 2010. Poly Real Estate Group Co, China's second-largest developer by market value, lowered 4.57 percent to 21.51 yuan despite saying first-quarter sales almost tripled from the same period last year to 6.48 billion yuan.

China will release a spate of economic data including first-quarter economic growth, trade and money supply from tomorrow.

China's exports fell by at least 10 percent in March from a year earlier, the International Business Daily reported today, citing an unidentified official from the Ministry of Commerce.

China's new bank loans reached a record 1.87 trillion yuan in March, Market News International reported yesterday, citing unidentified people. Total lending for the first quarter rose to 4.56 trillion yuan, almost as much as the government's target of at least 5 trillion yuan worth of lending for the year, it said.

China Life Insurance Co, the nation's biggest insurer, eased 4.63 percent to 22.64 yuan. Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, the No. 2, slid 4.41 percent to 38.82 yuan.

China will let life insurance companies invest up to 6 percent of their assets at the end of the previous quarter in infrastructure projects, the insurance regulator said yesterday. Insurers will be allowed to buy mid-term notes and bonds issued by local governments, it said.

Baoji Titanium Industry Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, said first-quarter profit tumbled more than 50 percent from 104 million yuan a year earlier because exports slumped and metal prices fell as the global economy slowed. The shares tumbled 7.71 percent to 18.91 yuan.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's biggest oil refiner, also known as Sinopec, posted a profit at its chemical-making business for the first two months of this year as some chemical product prices rebounded, parent China Petrochemical Corp said yesterday. The shares plunged 4.15 percent to 8.78 yuan.


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