Stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen retreated Monday as lackluster economic indicators released over the weekend withered trading sentiment.
The key Shanghai Composite Index closed at 2,310.59 after shaving off 8.02 points, or 0.35 percent; while the Shenzhen Component Index dived 8.68 points, or 0.09 percent, to finish at 9,277.16.
Combined trading volumes sagged to 145.3 billion yuan ($23.36 billion) Monday, down from Friday's 175.6 billion yuan total.
Both indices opened lower and struggled to break even for most of trading Monday after official data released Saturday showed the consumer price index (CPI) rising 3.2 percent year-on-year during February. The unexpectedly sharp increase ignited concerns that the central bank would tighten monetary policy to combat inflation, potentially choking off market liquidity.
Soft statistics on industrial output and retail sales released Sunday also cast a pall over the markets as investors reappraised the popular notion that the country's real economy was on the path to recovery, according to analysts.
Banking, liquor and coal shares took the brunt of Monday's losses. China Merchants Bank Co dropped 1.58 percent to 13.12 yuan. Hebei Hengshui Laobaigan Liquor Co shed 3.91 percent to 40.99 yuan. Shanxi Luan Environmental Energy Development Co dived 4.42 percent to 18.81 yuan.
On the up side, railway construction shares rallied after the government announced that it would dismantle the Ministry of Railways in an effort to promote efficiency across the country's rail system. China Railway Erju Co increased 1.47 percent to 6.89 yuan.
Meanwhile, environmental protection shares spiked once again on Beijing's pollution problems. Tianjin Capital Environmental Protection Group Co soared 6.64 percent to 9.63 yuan.
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