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China shares slide in Asia for the first quarter

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decline3 March 31, 2010 (Chinavestor) Chinese shares fell in Asia on Wednesday as concerns about fiscal tightening outweigh growth prospects. Fund managers cite earnings growth might have peaked in the first quarter due to a low base last year and raising costs going ahead. The Hang Seng Index (INDEXHANGSENG:.HSI) fell -135.44 points or -0.6% to 21,239.35 on Wednesday ending the month +1.5% higher but still down -2.9% YTD. Power generators fell on higher energy prices, shares of Huadian Power (HKG:1071) tumbled -4.4% while larger Huaneng Power (HKG:0902) (NYSE:HNP) fell -1.5%. China's offshore oil specialist, CNOOC Ltd. (HKG:0883) (NYSE:CEO) ended the day -1.39% lower following 2009 annual report. The company missed revenues and earnings estimates as price of oil fell in 2009.

Trading was similar in Shanghai on Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite Index (SHA:000001) fell -19.36 points or -0.6% to 3,109.11 at the close. The Mainland's widest index advanced +1.2% for the month but fell -5.1% YTD as concerns about China's exit from the stimulus and accelerating inflation still loom. The sell-off was broad, stocks that fell outnumbered those that advanced 6:1 among the fifty largest listed companies on the exchange. Shares of Baoshan Iron & Steel (SHA:600019), the largest steel maker in China, fell -1.6% while Asia's largest refiner, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SHA:600028), tumbled -1.8%. But shares of index heavy weight Petrochina (SHA:601857) hold up relatively well ending -0.6% lower for the day.

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Chinese stocks listed in U.S. capital markets have regained most of their momentum lost earlier the week. The low number of overbought and oversold stocks suggests that stock extremes disappear as the earnings season winds down.  The number of Chinese stocks trading above their 20-DMA and 50-DMA is almost as high as a week ago.

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As far as indices and ETFs are concerned, it looks like Chinese ETFs have run ahead of their underlying indices. The Morgan Stanley Fund (NYSE:CAF) is ahead of the Shanghai Composite Index (SHA:000001) while the iShares FTSE/Xinhua 25 Index (NYSE:FXI) is ahead of the Hang Seng Index (INDEXHANGSENG:.HSI). The global shipping ETF is under pressure after China Cosco Holdings (HKG:1919), the largest dry balk cargo shipper in the world, indicated that shipping fares will remain under pressure for the first half of the year.

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