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Analysts see another good year for China stocks

    SHANGHAI, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's stock markets will have another good year in 2008, but corporate profit growth is likely to decelerate amid tightening measures, analysts said.

    According to a report from Hua An Fund Management Co, Ltd., the trend of Chinese investors shifting their wealth into equities hasn't fundamentally changed. However, the report said, the profit growth of listed companies would slow to an estimated 35 percent in 2008 from around 55 percent last year, as the impact of monetary tightening and similar measures began to be felt.

    In 2007, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index hit a record high of 6,124 points on Oct. 16, compared with 2,675 points at the end of 2006. Shares edged up on the first trading day of 2008 on Wednesday, with stocks related to the Olympics as well as Beijing-based and consumption-related stocks recording gains of up to the 10 percent daily limit.

    On Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, was up 11.25 points or 0.21 percent, to close at 5,272.8 points. The Shenzhen Component Index on the smaller market climbed 155.53 points, or 0.88 percent, to stand at 17,856 points.

    China's rapid economic growth in 2007 was accompanied by increasing inflation pressure. Soaring food prices drove the consumer price index (CPI) to an 11-year high of 6.9 percent in November.

    The government has pledged to adopt tighter monetary policies and prudent fiscal policies to ensure structural adjustment and uniform economic development this year.

    Hou Ning, an economic analyst, said the tight monetary policy would affect the stock market, but the impact would take time to materialize.

    "The stock market has become a new platform for more and more Chinese citizens to share a chunk of the increasing wealth of the country," Hou said.

    Last year, 447 billion yuan (61.2 billion U.S. dollars) was raised through initial public offerings (IPOs) on Shanghai's A-share market., which was 2.7 times the amount of 2006.

    "The surge in IPO activity in China is a clear reflection of the growth in the Chinese economy and the confidence investors have about putting their money into China," said Gil Forer, global director of IPO Initiatives at Ernst & Young, a global professional services firm.

    Forer said the IPO pipeline for 2008 looked healthy, especially across the emerging markets, despite ongoing market uncertainty. In China alone, some 330 billion yuan would be raised through A-share listings in Shanghai, according to a report by Ernst & Young.

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