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Mainland stocks edge down as developers prolong slide

By Louise Ho  (Global Times)

08:29, March 11, 2013

Stock markets on the Chinese mainland closed on a sour note Friday as investors hunkered down to await trading cues.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 5.68 points, or 0.24 percent, to finish the week at 2,318.61; while the Shenzhen Component Index lost 107.86 points, or 1.15 percent, to end at 9,285.83.

Combined trading volume at the two exchanges dipped to 175.6 billion yuan ($28.26 billion) Friday, down significantly from Thursday's turnover of 251.8 billion yuan as investors kept big moves in check ahead of the weekend release of official inflation data and news of further developments from the policy front.

Several of the markets' heaviest sectors pulled off lukewarm performances Friday, putting pressure on both indices throughout the day.

The property and financial sectors took some of the day's biggest losses. Gree Real Estate Co shaved off 4.50 percent to 7.22 yuan. Ping An Bank Co dropped 3.71 percent to 22.86 yuan. Founder Securities Co lost 5.04 percent to 6.97 yuan.

Mainland markets were pulled deep into contractions early last week after the central government announced a new raft of housing market curbs on March 1, which included a 20 percent capital gains tax on secondhand home sales. The impact of these policies was particularly acute on listed real estate developers - which together surrendered over 8 percent last Monday - although cement, heavy machinery, steel and other related shares took a hit as well. Financial stocks also took a drubbing due to concerns about institutional stakes in the real estate market.

Property shares will likely remain targets for short-term sales until more details on the State Council's newest restrictions are announced later this month, although the sector is expected to bounce back after the two sessions conclude, according to analysts.

Meanwhile, a recent above-expectation rise in inflation is also expected to weigh on the markets in the coming days, experts warned.

The National Bureau of Statistics announced Saturday that China's consumer price index (CPI) for February was up 1.1 percent month-on-month and 3.2 percent year-on-year as the Spring Festival pushed up food prices, beating the average 0.8 percent and 3 percent rises predicted by economists polled by Reuters.

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