Tightening concerns sink stocks

By Dong Zhixin (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2008-06-13 16:15

Chinese stocks fell for an eighth straight session on Friday, as investors dumped shares amid concerns over inflation and further monetary tightening.

A man reads information from an electronic screen at a brokerage house in Shanghai June 12, 2008. [Agencies] 

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 3.00 percent to close at 2,868.80 points, slightly higher than the intra-day low of 2,865.50. For the week, the gauge fell 13.84 percent.

Inflation and tightening concerns were believed to be the culprit of the meltdown. China's wholesale inflation picked up in May to a three-year high of 8.2 percent, while the consumer inflation eased to 7.7 percent in the month, but still far above the official target of 4.8 percent for the whole year.

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Related readings:
Stocks fall as May inflation eases
Inflation rises 7.7% in May
Wholesale inflation accelerates

 Investors fear the central bank might resort to harsher measures after hiking banks' reserve ratio by 100 basis points last week to rein in inflation. The 15th ratio increase in 18 months was the trigger for the sell-off in the week.

Agricultural shares, which out-performed the market in the last few sessions, were among the biggest losers on Friday, as panic spread, prompting bargain-hunters to sell shares to lock in profits

Securities firms were also sold heavily, with Haitong Securities dropping its 10 percent daily limit. Citic Securities, the country's biggest listed brokerage, plunged 7.77 percent.

Banking shares continued their poor performance, as they are subject to the direct influences of any tighter monetary policy. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell 2.31 percent to close at 5.08 yuan per share.

Shares in the property sector fared hardly better. China Vanke, the country's biggest listed developer, tumbled 4.9 percent to 16.58 yuan.

Losing shares outnumbered the gainers by 12 to 1 in the Shanghai Stock Exchange, as trading volume shrank 20 percent from the previous session to 46.1 billion yuan, suggesting investors chose to stay on the sidelines.

Friday's close marked the market's lowest level in more than 14 months and a loss of over 50 percent from its peak reached mid-October due to investors' worries about valuation, inflation, tighter credit, and a bigger supply of shares.

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