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Monday, September 1, 2008

Chinese Airlines Report Disappointing First-Half Results

A sign of possible slowing down of Chinese economy ? The Olympic game was supposed to increase airline traffic, but the effect appears to be limited.

Chinese Airlines Report Disappointing First-Half Results

By Claudia Blume

A number of Chinese companies have reported disappointing earnings for the first half of this year. They include airlines, the country's largest insurance company and China's largest oil refiner. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly summary of business news from the Asia Pacific region.

China's largest international airline, Air China, reported a 21 percent drop in profits for the first-half of the year. Air China's earnings fell to about $180 million, down from more than $229 million during the same period last year.

Its rival, China Eastern Airlines, had a loss of more than $30 million for the first half of the year. Both airlines have suffered from high fuel costs and a slowdown in passenger traffic after the May earthquake in China's Sichuan province.

Results were also disappointing for other Chinese companies. Profits for the country's biggest insurer, China Life Insurance, fell 32 percent during the first six months of this year, to $2.3 billion. Analysts say the decline was caused by a steep drop in China's stock market that diminished the company's investment returns.

Meanwhile, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, Asia's biggest oil refiner, saw its first-half net profit drop by 77 percent from a year ago. A gap between surging global crude oil prices and government-controlled domestic prices means that Chinese refiners cannot pass on price hikes to consumers, resulting in falling profits.


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