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Win Streak Likely To End For China Stock Market

(RTTNews) - The China stock market has moved higher in five straight sessions, advancing more than 150 points or 4.8 percent in that span. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just above the 3,105-point plateau although investors may cash in on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is negative on economic growth concerns. The European and U.S. markets were down and the Asian bourses are expected to open in similar fashion.

The SCI finished barely higher as gains from the broader market were wiped out by weakness from the financials, properties and oil and insurance companies.

For the day, the index gained 4.32 points or 0.14 percent to finish at 3,106.42 after trading between 3,074.98 and 3,129.94. The Shenzhen Composite Index collected 8.12 points or 0.49 percent to end at 1,668.53.

Among the actives, Gemdale cratered 3.66 percent, while Poly Development sank 3.29 percent, China Vanke contracted 3.09 percent, CITIC Securities added 0.22 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China skidded 1.54 percent, China Construction Bank tumbled 1.77 percent, Bank of China dropped 1.02 percent, China Merchants Bank retreated 2.86 percent, China Life Insurance plummeted 3.59 percent, Ping An Insurance plunged 2.59 percent, PetroChina shed 0.50 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) lost 0.82 percent and China Shenhua Energy declined 1.46 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is soft as stocks came under pressure early in Thursday's trade and never managed to escape negative territory - extending recent losses.

The Dow shed 200.23 points or 0.78 percent to 25,473, while the NASDAQ lost 84.46 points or 1.13 percent to 7,421.46 and the S&P 500 fell 22.52 points or 0.81 percent to 2,748.93.

The continued weakness on Wall Street came after the European Central Bank slashed its economic growth forecast, citing lingering, mainly external uncertainties. The ECB also said it now expects eurozone interest rates to remain at the current level at least until the end of this year.

Traders may also have been reluctant to make any big moves ahead of closely watched U.S. employment data due later today.

In economic news, the Federal Reserve said U.S. consumer credit increased more than expected in January. Also, the Labor Department noted a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits last week.

Crude oil futures ended higher Thursday, driven by supply cuts from OPEC and on U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $0.44 or 0.8 percent at $56.66 a barrel.

Closer to home, China will release February numbers for imports, exports and trade balance later today. Imports are tipped to add 1.3 percent on year after sliding 1.5 percent in January. Exports are called lower by 2.2 percent after jumping 9.1 percent in the previous month. The trade surplus is pegged at $27.15 billion, down from $39.16 billion a month earlier.
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