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Wen's pledge helps stocks rally at midday

SHANGHAI'S key stock index rose in the morning thanks to a rally by commodities' producers, after Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to "significantly increase" investment to revive growth in the country's economy.

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.80 percent, or 39.50 points, to 2,237.61 points. The index surged 6.1 percent yesterday, the most in four months, on speculation Wen would unveil additional stimulus measures.

Former statistics chief Li Deshui told reporters yesterday that Wen would announce "a new stimulus package," while Standard Chartered Bank Plc has said the 4 trillion yuan plan may be doubled.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic market, was up 1.42 percent, or 10.15 points, to 725.63 points.

China needs to "reverse the economic slide as soon as possible," Wen said in his work report, presented to the National People's Congress in Beijing this morning.

While China's economy is the only one of the world's five largest still expanding, the pace has slowed for six straight quarters. Growth in the three months through December was 6.8 percent from a year earlier. That compares with a 13 percent expansion for all of 2007.

Jiangxi Copper gained 4.84 percent to 17.54 yuan (US$2.56), extending yesterday's 10 percent surge. Yunnan Copper Industry Co rallied 4.44 percent to 14.34 yuan.

Copper for May delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed as much as 4.7 percent to 30,600 yuan a metric ton, the highest for a most-active contract since November 10.

Aluminum Corp of China, the nation's largest producer of the lightweight metal, added 2.71 percent to 9.81 yuan.

Global stocks rallied yesterday on speculation any new spending by China would revive demand for raw materials. China Investment Corp, the US$200 billion sovereign wealth fund, may invest in "undervalued" commodity assets, Executive Vice President Jesse Wang told reporters yesterday in Beijing.


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