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Chinese shares dive nearly 4%, approach half of record high
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09:48, April 19, 2008

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Chinese shares continued dropping on Friday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index diving nearly 4 percent to almost half of its highest level.

The index, which covers both A and B shares, slumped 3.97 percent, or 128.07 points, to 3,094.67.

It was 49.5 percent off from a record 6124.04 set in October and the lowest in more than a year.

The Shenzhen Component Index closed down 3.13 percent, or 365.04 points lower at 11,292.04.

Losers outnumbered gainers by 722 to 50 in Shanghai and 561 to 37 in Shenzhen. Aggregate turnover narrowed to 78.5 billion yuan (about 11.2 billion U.S. dollars) from 90.2 billion yuan on Thursday.

Large caps led losses, with PetroChina, the most heavily weighted component of the Shanghai index, tumbling 5.04 percent to 16.02 yuan, breaking through its issue price of 16.7 yuan for the first time.

PetroChina's plunge triggered panic selling and further dampened market sentiment which had been hit by Friday's reports of funds cutting stock holdings in the first quarter, said analysts.

Five fund management companies released their first-quarter reports on Friday, showing they had reduced the proportion of stock investment in the total capital of their 25 stock-oriented funds by more than 7 percentage points on average.

The market would continue to post a weak performance in the short term on feeble buying interest, said analyst Hong Yanhua at Chengdu Huiyang Investment Consulting.

Meanwhile, observers said the market was on its way to the bottom and approaching a rebound.

There would be limited room for correction in future, according to securities company Shenyin & Wanguo.

Most blue-chips reported losses. Sinopec slumped 7.54 percent to 10.43 yuan and Bank of China shed 4.04 percent. Daqin Railway was down 9.97 percent, nearing the daily limit of 10 percent, to 13.81 yuan.

China's largest lender, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, slid 0.69 percent to 5.75 yuan. Insurance giant China Life went down 2.73 percent to 27.03 yuan and Aluminum Corp. of China (Chalco) plummeted 5.67 percent to 18.98 yuan.

Power firms tracked previous losses as concerns on their earnings lingered, with Huaneng Power International tumbling 6.22 percent to 6.78 yuan.

The company warned on Thursday its first-quarter net profit was expected to be half of that in the same period last year, eroded by rising thermal coal prices.




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