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Chinese shares fall 5.23% after weeklong holiday
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Chinese shares tumbled 5.23 percent on Monday, the first trading day after the weeklong National Day holiday, dragged down by the losses of the heavyweight banking sector.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 120.05 points, or 5.23 percent, to close at 2,173.74 points. The Shenzhen Component Index fell 341.95 points, or 4.52 percent, to 7,217.32 points.

Aggregate turnover was 68.04 billion yuan (about 10 billion U.S. dollars). Losses outnumbered gains 1,406 to 192, while 110 stocks were unchanged.

The mainland stock market last week escaped the impact of a global plunge due to its closure for the seven-day National Day holiday on Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.

When the market reopened Monday, bank shares led the fall as Chinese investors were still concerned over the U.S. financial crisis despite the approval of the massive U.S. financial rescue plan last week.

Bank shares fell 8.54 percent on average. Shares of five banks, including China Merchants Bank, Pudong Development Bank and the Industrial Bank, plunged by the 10 percent daily limit.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's largest lender, shed 6.44 percent to 4.07 yuan. China Merchants Bank closed at 15.86 yuan.

Coal producer shares also plunged as investors worried coal prices could decline amid the falling oil price on the international market.

Shares of the coal-producing sector as a whole dropped almost by the 10 percent daily limit. More than two-thirds of coal producer shares, including the country's top producers China Shenhua and Yanzhou Coal Mining Company, plunged by the 10 percent limit.

Brokerage companies saw gains after news on Sunday that China Securities Regulatory Commission would soon launch the margin trading business for securities firms.

Haitong Securities rose by the 10 percent daily limit to 23.67 yuan per share, Guojin Securities gained 7.7 percent to 34.83 yuan, while Guoyuan Securities was up 5.9 percent to 20.65 yuan per share.

Margin trading, which allows traders to borrow part of the money necessary to buy a security, would change the current one-way trading on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses and serve as a risk aversion tool for investors.

Galaxy Securities analyst Qin Xiaobin said the plunge of Chinese stocks caught up with last week's heavy losses on Wall Street and other major markets amid growing doubts about the ability of the 700 billion U.S. dollar bailout package, which was approved the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday and immediately signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The fall was also because Chinese investors were pessimistic about the country's economic outlook and enterprises profitability, Qin told Xinhua.

The trial launch of margin trading business was a sign of the government's decision to rescue the ailing stock market rather than an ultimate cure, he added.

(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2008)

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