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Shipping news sends market sliding

SHANGHAI'S key stock index fell today, ending a seven-day gain, as the measure of shipping costs for commodities extended its longest losing stretch from December.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 2 percent, or 46.86 points, to close at 2,291.55 points. Turnover shrank to 132.14 billion yuan (US$19.43 billion) from 149.66 billion yuan. Losers outnumbered gainers 706 to 162 and 13 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was down 2.22 percent to close at 757.07 points.

China Shipping Development Co tumbled 5.02 percent to 10.98 yuan while China Cosco Holdings Co plunged 4.86 percent to 11.16 yuan.

Kweichow Moutai Co, the maker of the liquor used at official banquets, said 2008 profit rose 34 percent from a year earlier to 3.8 billion yuan, missing some analysts' estimates.

Shanghai Bashi Industrial Group Co, the city-controlled bus company, said Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp will not sell 338 million of the company's shares. Its shares lost 0.45 percent to 6.69 yuan.

Banks had mixed results. Bank of China, the world's third-largest lender by market value said 2008 profit grew 14 percent, the slowest pace in three years as a result of writedowns of US mortgage investments and low profitability. The stock dipped 2.31 percent to 3.39 yuan. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, lowered 1.57 percent to 3.77 yuan. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank hiked 1.37 percent to 20.76 yuan. Bank of Communications edged down 0.84 percent to 5.88 yuan.

Oil producers fell despite the country lifting prices for fuel.

The National Development and Reform Commission yesterday announced the first fuel price rise in nine months, saying this was a result of the recent increase in global crude oil prices. From today the price of gasoline rose by 290 yuan to 5,730 yuan a ton and diesel by 180 yuan to 4,990 yuan a ton.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Asia's largest refiner and also known as Sinopec, edged down 0.56 percent to 8.82 yuan. PetroChina, the largest oil producer and biggest heavyweight in the market, was off 1.7 percent to 11.57 yuan.

Metal producers also reversed morning gains and ended lower today. Jiangxi Copper Co, China's biggest producer of the metal, dropped 0.98 percent to 22.3 yuan. Aluminum Corporation of China Ltd eased 2.62 percent to 10.41 yuan. Shangdong Gold Mining Co Ltd shrank 1.28 percent to 79.41 yuan.


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