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Shanghai index rises for first time in three days
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Shanghai's key stock index rose for the first time in three trading days, driven by financial shares on speculation a retreat in crude oil prices will slow inflation that would ease pressure on the central bank to restrict lending.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 2.55 percent, or 72.44 points, to 2,910.29 at 3pm.

Gainers in the Shanghai market outnumbered losers 807 to 17 while two remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic stock exchange, increased 2.43 percent, or 20.54 points, to 866.64.

China Merchants Bank Co, the nation's biggest dual-currency credit-card issuer, and China Vanke Co led the gain.

The central bank this year ordered lenders to set aside a record amount in reserve to tame inflation after raising interest rates six times in 2007. Inflation climbed to 7.9 percent in the first half of this year, compared with 4.8 percent for all of 2007

Merchants Bank rose 5.57 percent to 25.41 yuan (US$3.73). Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co, the Chinese partner of Citigroup Inc, added 8.17 percent to 23.69 yuan. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest lender, climbed 2.38 percent to 5.17 yuan.

Vanke, the nation's biggest listed property developer, advanced 6.66 percent to 9.29 yuan. Shenzhen-based Lvgem Estate Co surged the daily cap of 10 percent to close the session at 8.02 yuan.

Oil fell 3.1 percent to US$124.44 a barrel in New York yesterday, dropping below US$125 for the first time in six weeks after a US government report showed that fuel stockpiles increased as consumption tumbled to the lowest in more than a year.

The lower oil price continued to fuel oil-related shares and airline carriers today.

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