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Rate cut speculation boosts market

SHANGHAI'S key stock index climbed nearly 2 percent today as the financial sector surged amid speculation about rate cuts after China posted a lower Consumer Price Index.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 1.88 percent, or 39.82 points, to close at 2,158.57 points. Turnover shrank to 69.2 billion yuan (US$10.1 billion) from yesterday's 103.7 billion yuan. Gainers outnumbered losers 817 to 59 and 32 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 1.94 percent to close at 699.80 points.

China's Consumer Price Index for February dropped 1.6 percent from the same period last year, the first time in six years. The Producer Price Index was down 4.5 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics announced this morning.

"The shrinking turnover suggests the market is still unstable and we suggest the index will fluctuate around 2,100 points in the future," says a research note by Shenyin & Wanguo Securities.

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, China's second-largest insurer, advanced 4.83 percent to 34.52 yuan. China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co was up 3.60 percent to 14.10 yuan.

Haitong Securities rallied 5.15 percent to 12.46 yuan. Sinolink Securities was up 2.43 percent to 28.70 yuan.

China Cosco Holdings Co Ltd surged the daily limit of 10 percent to 10.76 yuan. PetroChina, the biggest component index, advanced 1.89 percent to 10.79 yuan with crude oil prices gaining since the end of last month. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner, climbed 1.96 percent to 8.31 yuan.

China Eastern Airlines Corp, the nation's third-largest carrier by fleet size, said its parent won a further 2 billion yuan in aid from the government. Its shares advanced 3.54 percent to 4.68 yuan.

Banks were weak ?they would make little profit with lower interest rates. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, edged up 0.54 percent to 3.72 yuan. China Merchants Bank Co, the nation's fifth-largest bank by market value, lowered 0.67 percent to 14.90 yuan. China Construction Bank is up 0.24 percent to 4.11 yuan.

China Vanke Co, the nation's biggest listed property developer, said its 2008 profit fell 17 percent after it wrote down the value of some projects. The stock lost 1.01 percent to 7.81 yuan.

Western Mining Co, the country's fourth-largest maker of zinc concentrate, said that 2008 profit plunged 67 percent because of lower metal prices and charges from the lower value of inventories. Its shares were up 2.41 percent to 8.49 yuan.

Zhuzhou Smelter Group Co, China's biggest producer of refined zinc, said profit last year slumped 76 percent as prices collapsed and the company was forced to make provisions for losses on inventories. Its shares added 2.94 percent to 7.01 yuan.


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