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Index closes lower as oil, coal shares fall
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Shanghai's key stock index declined today as oil-related shares and coal producers dropped.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.55 percent, or 45.19 points, to 2,865.10 at 3pm.

The index climbed 86.73 points, or 3.13 percent, this week.

Losers in the Shanghai market outnumbered gainers 587 to 223 while 16 remained unchanged.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller domestic stock exchange, dipped 0.69 percent, or 5.95 points, to 860.69.

PetroChina, the biggest stock on the index based on market capitalization, contributed the most to the market's loss today.

PetroChina decreased 2.14 percent to 15.07 yuan (US$2.21). China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, also known as Sinopec, the country's biggest oil refiner, shed 0.44 percent to 11.38 yuan.

Sinopec processed 9.8 percent more crude at its largest refinery in the first half to meet demand, parent company China Petrochemical Corp said yesterday.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose US$1.05 to settle at US$125.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, gaining back only about a quarter of Wednesday's decline. The price of natural gas for August tumbled 46.5 US cents to settle at US$9.283 per 1,000 cubic feet, its lowest point since March.

In London, Brent crude for September delivery gained US$1.15 to settle at US$126.44 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Yesterday's gains followed a sharp drop on Wednesday, when oil tumbled US$3.98 to settle at US$124.44 a barrel, its lowest finish since June 4. Crude has fallen in six of the past eight sessions, and now sits nearly 15 percent below its peak of more than US$147 a barrel earlier this month.

In the iron and steel sector, Boashan Iron & Steel Co, the country's largest steel maker, lost 2.82 percent to 8.60 yuan while Xinjiang Bayi Iron & Steel Co also buckled 4.72 percent to 10.70 yuan.

Datang International Power Generation Co, China's second-largest electricity producer, tumbled 2.13 percent to 9.17 yuan. The company said yesterday first-half profit may fall by more than 70 percent because of rising fuel costs. The electricity producer posted a net income of 2.3 billion yuan in the first-half of 2007.

Coal producers also retreated. Shenhua, the nation's largest coal producer, slid 3.13 percent to 32.19 yuan. Yanzhou Coal Mining Co, the listed unit of China's fourth-biggest coal miner, fell 2.88 percent to 18.91 yuan.

China's National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top planner, held a meeting Wednesday to discuss price curbs on coking coal and coke to help manufacturers cope with rising costs, two officials said. Coal prices at China's biggest coal ports can't be increased beyond the June 19 levels, the commission said yesterday.

Shares in the real estate sector were mixed today after yesterday's rally.

Shenzhen-based Lvgem Estate Co continued yesterday's 10 percent surge and climbed 3.24 percent to 8.28 yuan while Shanghai-based Shimao Property Co declined 1.85 percent to 11.64 yuan.

Poly Real Estate Group Co, China's second-largest developer by market value, was suspended from trading today. The developer said yesterday that its first-half profit almost quadrupled to about 1 billion yuan after the company sold more houses in the first six months of the year.

(Shanghai Daily July 25, 2008)

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