China Life Insurance Co. (601628) led insurance stocks lower after the company estimated slumping profit. Consumer-staples producers paced gains for companies more immune to an economic slowdown after manufacturing reports trailed estimates.
China Life, the nation’s biggest insurer, dropped the most in a week after after saying full-year profit probably slumped 40 percent. A government report showed China’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.1 in February，compared with the median economists’ estimate of 50.5.
“The PMI may not tell too much about the economy as the data may be skewed by the Chinese new year factor in February,” said Wu Kan, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co., which oversees $285 million. “Combining data for January and February would be better to gauge the true picture of the economy and stocks would move on that.”
The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) slipped 0.3 percent to 2,358.47 at 10:03 a.m. local time, after jumping 2.3 percent yesterday in the biggest advance in a month. The CSI 300 Index lost 0.3 percent to 2,665.93. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of Chinese companies traded in Hong Kong fell 0.2 percent. The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index (CH55BN), the measure of the most-traded U.S.-listed Chinese companies, added 0.2 percent in New York yesterday.
The Shanghai Composite has gained 1.9 percent this week, adding to a 20 percent climb since a bull-market rally started on Dec. 3. The measure declined 0.8 percent in February, the first monthly drop since November, and trades for 9.8 times projected 12-month earnings, near the lowest since Dec. 24.
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