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Swine flu concerns drag index lower

SHANGHAI'S key stock index extended losses yesterday and ended just above 2,400 points, affected by tumbles in surrounding markets, on concerns an outbreak of deadly swine flu would deal another blow to the already-fragile global economy.

The Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.16 percent, or 3.91 points, to close at 2,401.44 points. Turnover shrank to 90.83 billion yuan (US$13.30 billion) from 103.1 billion yuan on Monday.

"Global concerns are rising over the possibility of the Mexico-originated swine flu spreading widely that would cause a huge economic loss to the world economy," Orient Securities Co wrote in a research note. "The swine flu has already done some damage to the tourism and airline business but the medical sector will benefit."

China Southern Airlines Co led carriers down after saying its first-quarter profit dived 71 percent. Shares of the nation's biggest carrier by fleet size tumbled 6.18 percent to 5.31 yuan. Hainan Airlines Co fell 3.93 percent to 5.13 yuan, Air China Ltd slid 2.71 percent to 6.10 yuan and China Eastern Airlines Corp slumped 5.01 percent to 4.55 yuan.

Gold producers were also among losers, with Shandong Gold Mining Co off 8.21 percent to 37.78 yuan, Zhongjin Gold Corp down 5.05 percent to 58.50 yuan and Zijin Mining Group Co shedding 7.21 percent to 8.75 yuan.

But drug producers continued to soar due to the deadly swine flu which has spread to at least 16 countries far beyond worst-hit Mexico, including in Europe and Asia, reporting confirmed or suspected infections.

Several pharmaceutical firms jumped by the 10-percent daily cap, including Jiangsu SOPO Chemical Co which ended at 6.66 yuan and Shanghai Pharmaceutical Co closed at 11.44 yuan.


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