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China Life overtakes AT&T in valuation
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China Life Insurance Co yesterday surpassed AT&T Inc in market value, giving China five of the world's 10 largest companies, compared to three for the United States.


Beijing-based China Life, the nation's largest insurer, gained 1.1 percent in Hong Kong and added 6.7 percent in Shanghai yesterday ahead of its third-quarter earnings announcement, valuing the company at 1.94 trillion yuan (US$259.1 billion). San Antonio-based AT&T, the biggest US phone company, is valued at US$252.9 billion, according to Bloomberg News.


"China is one of the most exciting economies," said Jim Rogers, the chairman of New York-based Beeland Interests Inc. "The market is willing to pay a lot more for future growth."


China Life, PetroChina Co, China Mobile Ltd, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp are now in the list of the world's 10 biggest companies by market value. Only two of those are in the top 50 by sales.


The CSI 300 Index, which tracks yuan-denominated shares on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, has risen 170 percent this year, the best performance among 90 global benchmarks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, which is dominated by Chinese companies, has gained 58 percent.


The People's Bank of China has told lenders to set aside more reserves eight times this year, and has raised interest rates five times to help cool the economy.


The nation's households are pouring more of their US$2.3 trillion savings into shares to beat inflation, which exceeds the return on bank deposits.


(Shanghai Daily October 30, 2007)


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