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Jinan Steel eyes 60% drop in 2008 net profit
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Jinan Iron and Steel Company, China's largest shipbuilding plate manufacturer in the eastern Shandong Province, posted a 60.13 percent decline in its 2008 net profit as the financial crisis bit, according to its statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Saturday.

Net profit stood at more than 780.6 million yuan (114.1 million U.S. dollars) in 2008, down 60.13 percent from a year earlier. Earnings per share was about 0.55 yuan last year, down from 1.45 yuan in 2007.

The company blamed the financial crisis for the drop in its profit, saying the downturn had resulted in drastic contraction in both domestic and overseas demand for steel in 2008.

Slacking demand led to an increase in stockpiling and thus steel prices plunged, which eroded the company's profit.

The whole steel industry suffered from shrinking demand and steel prices dive last year.

According to the country's iron and steel association, the aggregate net profit of 71 medium-sized and large steel producers fell 43 percent to 84.6 billion yuan in 2008 as weak demand drove down prices. And 15 steel producers recorded full-year losses totaling 8.5 billion yuan.

The statement of Jinan Steel said the prospect for 2009 was not optimistic in face of the sagging world economy and uncertainties about the raw material prices.

Luo Bingsheng, executive deputy director of the country's iron and steel association, said in late February that recovery for China's steel market was not yet in sight as declining exports and excessive production capacity continued to haunt the industry.

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2009)

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