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China Shares Expected To Remain Rangebound

The China stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four trading days since the end of the two-day winning streak in which it had advanced almost 70 points or 2.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index now rests just beneath the 2,555-point plateau although it's expected to move lower again on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets suggests mild consolidation on profit taking and a drop in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were down and the Asian bourses are expected to follow that lead.

The SCI finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the financial shares, properties and oil and insurance companies.

For the day, the index gathered 18.73 points or 0.74 percent to finish at 2,553.83 after trading between 2,533.36 and 2,554.79.

Among the actives, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China added 0.38 percent, while China Merchants Bank spiked 2.36 percent, Bank of China collected 0.28 percent, China Construction Bank perked 0.32 percent, China Life Insurance gathered 0.74 percent, Ping An Insurance advanced 0.99 percent, PetroChina rose 0.41 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) climbed 0.94 percent, China Shenhua Energy was up 0.27 percent, Gemdale jumped 1.61 percent, China Vanke gained 0.76 percent and CITIC Securities jumped 1.01 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is slightly soft as stocks opened lower on Friday, staged a recovery in the afternoon but still finished barely in the red.

The Dow shed 5.97 points or 0.02 percent to 23,995.95, while the NASDAQ lost 14.59 points or 0.21 percent to 6,971.48 and the S&P 500 fell 0.38 points or 0.01 percent to 2,596.26. For the week, the Dow added 2.4 percent, the NASDAQ added 3.5 percent and the S&P rose 2.5 percent.

The early weakness on Wall Street was due to profit taking, with traders cashing in on gains from the five-day winning streak. Concerns about the ongoing government shutdown and skepticism about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China also weighed.

In economic news, the Labor Department noted a slight drop in consumer prices in December, while core consumer priced ticked slightly higher.

Crude oil futures ended lower Friday, snapping a nine-day winning streak as profit taking and worries about the slowing Chinese economy weighed on the commodity. Crude oil futures ended down $1.00 or 1.9 percent at $51.59 a barrel.

Closer to home, China will release December figures for imports, exports and trade balance later today.

Imports are expected to rise 5.0 percent on year after adding 3.0 percent in November. Exports are called higher by 3.0 percent, slowing from 5.4 percent in the previous month. The trade surplus is pegged at $51.35 billion, up from $44.74 billion a month earlier.

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