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Chinese shares sink on monetary tightening fears
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Shares on China's stock markets continued to lose ground on Friday as concerns pileup over possible interest-rate hikes and government measures to control record inflation.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index on the Shanghai Stock Exchange closed at 3,962.67 on Friday, down 8.58 points, or 0.22 percent, from the previous close.

The Shenzhen Component Index on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange closed at 13,817.65, a decline of 125.50 points, or 0.90 percent over the previous trading day.

The Hushen 300 Index reflecting the performance of China's Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges closed at 4,157.87 on Friday, shrunk 41.09 points, or 0.98 percent.

Benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, shed 42.57 points to 3,928.69 in the morning session.

It continued to slide in the afternoon and the index once broke through 3900 points to hit the lowest 3891.70 points.

Although stock prices rallied a little to top 3,900 points in the afternoon because of the rebound of PetroChina, the market is still weak because of investors' wait-and-see attitude.

Investors remained worried as soaring inflation is likely to trigger a new round of tightening measures, potentially battering corporate profits, analysts said.

The energy heavyweight PetroChina which accounts for a quarter of the Shanghai composite index, rose 0.54 yuan or 3.14 percent to close at 22.33 yuan.

Financial, telecom, steel and real estate stocks, whose profits would be squeezed by the potential monetary tightening measures contribute to the drop, said the analysts.

China Merchants Bank, the nation's biggest dual-currency credit-card issuer, lost 3.14 percent, to close at 29.34 yuan. And Shanghai Pudong Development Bank slid 1.33 yuan or 3.94 percent to 32.44 yuan.

Energy giant Sinopec plunged 3.07 percent to close at 13.90 yuan, while mobile heavyweight China Unicom dipped 2.89 percent to end at 9.41 yuan.

Zhongjin Gold Corp. was among the gainers, after bullion prices traded near a record after topping 1,000 US. dollars for the first time in history. It has surged by 3.86 percent to close at 105.09 yuan.

China Life Insurance, a major insurer in China, gained 2.43 percent or 0.83 yuan to close the week at 35 yuan.

The poor market performance indicates investor enthusiasm is really low. Aggregate turnover on the two stock markets totaled 93 billion yuan (13.3 billion US. dollars), a sharp decrease from yesterday's 139.36 billion yuan.

Losses outnumbered gains by 462 to 322 in Shanghai and by 353 to 255 in Shenzhen.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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