Equities fall on European debt crisis, inflation worries

Updated: 2011-07-19 10:59

By Zhang Shidong (China Daily)

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Equities fall on European debt crisis, inflation worries

Tsingtao Brewery Co added 1.2 percent to 37.19 yuan ($5.75) on Monday, the highest close since Nov 10 as investors sought companies whose profit may withstand an economic slowdown. [Photo / China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Stocks on the Chinese mainland fell for the first time in four days on concern the nation's inflation rate will jump this month and the European debt crisis will curb demand for commodities and slow economic growth.

PetroChina Co dropped to the lowest in almost a month as Brent crude prices declined. Jiangxi Copper Co led a retreat for raw material companies. Beijing Tongrentang Co, a retailer of Chinese medicine, climbed 6.9 percent and Tsingtao Brewery Co surged to an eight-month high as investors sought companies whose profit may withstand an economic slowdown.

"I am more willing to invest in defensive stocks since the outlook for inflation and economic growth is still unclear," said Wu Kan, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co, which oversees $285 million.

The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China's stock exchanges, slipped 3.48 points to 2816.69 at its close.

Of the 947 stocks in the measure, 448 stocks fell, 438 rose and 61 were unchanged. The CSI 300 Index lost 0.2 percent to 3122.60.

The Shanghai gauge had climbed for a fourth week after government reports showed China's economy grew at a faster-than-expected 9.5 percent in the second quarter and industrial production expanded more than estimated in June. The measure has added 0.3 percent this year, erasing a loss of as much as 6.7 percent, on expectations the central bank will halt monetary tightening after raising interest rates five times and the reserve-requirement ratio 12 times since the start of 2010.

Gauges of material stocks in the CSI 300 dropped 0.7 percent and of energy stocks 0.6 percent, the most among 10 industry groups.

PetroChina lost 0.7 percent to 10.69 yuan ($1.65), its lowest close since June 22.

Jiangxi Copper retreated 1.1 percent to 36.61 yuan. Zhuzhou Smelter Group Co fell 1.3 percent to 18.18 yuan.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet repeated his opposition to any restructuring of Greek debt. Brent crude dropped as much as 0.4 percent before eurozone leaders meet in Brussels on July 21 to discuss the "financial stability" of the region.

China's consumer prices may increase by about 6.5 percent in July, Reuters reported, citing Chen Dongqi, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission's macroeconomic research institute. The inflation rate was 6.4 percent in June, a three-year high. The nation's benchmark money-market rate climbed on speculation the central bank will sell more bills to drain cash from the financial system and contain inflation.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd slumped 0.9 percent to 4.36 yuan. Industrial Bank Co, part-owned by a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc, lost 1.3 percent to 14.07 yuan. China Minsheng Banking Corp, the first privately owned bank, dropped 0.9 percent to 5.74 yuan.

China's new-home prices rose in 67 Chinese cities in June, with growth in Beijing and Shanghai accelerating. In Beijing new home prices rose 2.2 percent last month from 2.1 percent in May, while in Shanghai they climbed 2.2 percent, compared with 1.4 percent growth the previous month, the statistics bureau said on its website on Monday.

China's fixed-asset investment growth will likely slow as infrastructure projects under the stimulus program wind down, local financing vehicles face tightening and government curbs depress property investment, Ba Shusong, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center, wrote in a commentary published in Economic Information Daily on Monday.

Monetary tightening may also affect investment growth, Ba said. A risk of overtightening may occur if investment in affordable housing in the fourth quarter doesn't offset the decline in other property investment, Ba wrote.

Anhui Conch, China's biggest cement maker, retreated 2.6 percent to 27.98 yuan, paring its gain to 41 percent this year. The stock had surged on speculation it will benefit from the government's plan to speed up construction of affordable housing. Huaxin Cement Co, the Chinese affiliate of Holcim Ltd, fell 1.7 percent to 28.50 yuan. Tangshan Jidong Cement Co slid 3.6 percent to 24.87 yuan.

A measure tracking 23 consumer staples stocks rose 1 percent today, the most among the CSI 300 groups. Tsingtao Brewery added 1.2 percent to 37.19 yuan, the highest close since Nov 10. Kweichow Moutai Co, China's biggest producer of baijiu liquor by market value, gained 2 percent to 198.96.

Shanghai Bailian Group Co rose 2.6 percent to 16.59 yuan. First-half profit may have increased more than 50 percent as the company booked an investment gain of 308.9 million yuan from the sale of a stake in its property unit. A gauge of 21 healthcare stocks rose, extending a 3.6 percent jump on July 15 after the Shanghai Securities News said the government may announce a biomedical development plan by the end of the month. It has gained 9.7 percent this month, the most among the CSI 300 industry groups.

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