Uncertainty about results dulls trade

SHANGHAI B shares were mixed, with investors remaining cautious while companies report earnings for last year but expecting improved economic prospects to drive the market up eventually.

'Many fund managers want to see more results,' said Queenie Cheung, analyst at Standard Chartered Securities.

'We are only a third of the way through the reports, so I think people are still very cautious.' The CLSA Shanghai B share index fell 0.03 point to 645.66 points after rising in the first three days of the week.

Turnover was US$1.81 million, down from $3.92 million on Thursday. Seven stocks fell, 10 rose and 16 were unchanged.

The recently launched CLSA A-30 index, made up of 30 leading A shares, rose 3.24 per cent to 1,377.34 points.

Lawrence Ang, head of China Research at SBCI Finance Asia, said some results due out next week were likely to be lower than forecast, due to the government's tight credit policy last year.

Hong Kong-listed Chinese machinery companies Beiren Printing and Kunming Machine-tool were also expected to report poor results next week, he said.

The most active stock was Outer Gaoqiao, which is developing a free-trade zone in Shanghai's foreign investment zone of Pudong. It rose 0.4 per cent to 54 cents on trade worth $350,000.

Liujiazui, which is developing a financial park in Pudong, fell 1.4 per cent to 73 cents on trade worth $310,000, after rising early in the week on speculation that Premier Li Peng would visit Pudong.

Investors did not think the explosion on Tuesday of two acid storage tanks at polyvinyl chloride (PVC) maker Shanghai Chlor-Alkali would hurt the company's growth prospects. Its shares rose 0.8 per cent to 25.2 cents.

In separate news, Shanghai Tire & Rubber, a Shanghai-listed tyre-maker, set up a joint venture with Hong Kong's Xinzhong Real Estate to build a commercial block in west Shanghai, the official Shanghai Securities News reported.

Shanghai Tire & Rubber's share price has fallen 51 per cent in the past six months.

Investors have been concerned that its earnings will be hurt by rising world rubber prices and a slowdown in car purchases by Chinese companies. Yesterday its shares were unchanged at 28 cents.