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Medical Stocks Soar on Back of SARS Concerns
China's key stock index closed at a five-month peak Thursday as the spread of the flu-like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus continued to give drug producer shares a shot in the arm, brokers said.

The benchmark Shanghai composite index, grouping yuan-denominated A shares and hard-currency B shares, rose 7.506 points or 0.49 percent to 1,551.18 points, its highest finish since November 7, while the Shenzhen sub-index also soared 40.87 points or 1.27 percent to end at 3,259.95.

Pharmaceutical counters topped gainer's lists on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses as punters bet on healthier sales of antibiotics and health products to people hearing about more cases of SARS.

Antibiotics and traditional medicines maker Topfond Pharmaceuticals' A shares were the star performers, jumping their 10 percent daily limit to 6.99 yuan after having soared 25 percent since the start of 2003.

Rival Shandong Dong-e E-jiao Co was Shenzhen's biggest gainer and surged 7.75 percent to 9.59 yuan.

Despite the day's mild rally, analysts said a fall in some large-capitalized companies suggested the indices were coming under corrective pressure after the Shanghai composite index had clocked gains over three straight sessions.

"Profit-taking pressure has accumulated," said analyst Sun Yijun at Tiantong Securities.

"We expect the Shanghai composite index to consolidate around 1,548 points, the average close over the past year," he said.

A shares in China United Telecommunications Corp, the exchanges' second largest company by market capitalization, closed down 1.56 percent at 3.16 yuan on heavy volume of 550.88 million shares, making it Thursday's most active counter.

Oil giant Sinopec Corp edged down 0.52 percent to 3.79 yuan.

Selling in loss makers during the peak of the corporate reporting season weighed on B shares, which are open to Chinese and foreign investors, brokers said.

Shenzhen's B-share index ended down 0.43 percent at 211.11 points. Shanghai's fell 0.96 percent to 122.408.

Chicken breeder Shanghai Dajiang Group, which was in the red in 2000 and 2001, dropped 6.03 percent to US$0.405. Investors expected another poor showing when Dajiang posts 2002 results on April 26, brokers said.

(China Daily April 11, 2003)

Indices Rise as Investors Snap up Heavyweights
Stocks Slide as Investors Sell over Poor 2002 Results
Indices Fall as Investors Sell Loss-makers' Shares
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