Market lifeless as investors cautious
By Leo Zhang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-15 10:59

Shanghai shares closed almost unchanged yesterday as investors became more cautious prior to the launch of two massive initial public offerings due by the year's end.

China Merchants Bank Co led a rise in the banking sector after its Hong Kong stock sale received an overwhelming response from investors.

The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks yuan-denominated A shares and hard-currency B shares, closed at 1,689.69, edging up 0.02 percent from a day earlier when it failed to conquer the 1,700 level.

The A-share barometer inched up 0.01 percent to close at 1,777.12 while the B-share gauge grew 0.35 percent to 89.35.

"There's little possibility that the index can breach 1,700 in the near term," said Mao Hou, a Huatai Securities Co analyst. "Investors are short of incentive to add positions now" before the upcoming share flotations.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, plans to launch US$21 billion dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai next month, with a third of the issue allotted to domestic investors.

China Life Insurance Group Co, the country's largest insurer, is eying a US$2.6 billion mainland stock offering by December 31.

Analysts expect more industry giants such as Ping An Insurance Group Co and PetroChina Ltd to follow suit by selling shares on the mainland early next year.

China Merchants, the second-biggest mainland listed lender, advanced 1.63 percent to 9.34 yuan (US$1.17). The retail portion of the bank's Hong Kong stock sale was 265 times oversubscribed on Wednesday.

China Minsheng Banking Corp, the country's first private lender, rose 1.35 percent to 7.50 yuan.

Elsewhere, Chongqing Department Store dipped 4.05 percent to 10.90 yuan after Dashang Group Co refuted a media report that it will acquire the Chongqing-based firm. Dashang Group lost 0.30 percent to close at 36.77 yuan.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industry Updates)