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Chinese shares close mixed Thursday on weak PMI data

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BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese shares ended mixed on Thursday after sharp fluctuations before the closing bell.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index touched 4,400 points in the morning trading session, its highest level since March 7, 2008, and finished its seven-year high by gaining 1 percent during the day, before ending at 4,414.51 points, up 0.36 percent, or 16.01 points.

The smaller Shenzhen Component Index gave up an early surge to end 0.04 percent or 5.92 points lower at 14,743.22 points.

The combined turnover on the two bourses rose to 1.68 trillion yuan (274.6 billion U.S. dollars) from Wednesday's 1.66 trillion; still lower than Monday's record high of 1.8 trillion yuan.

Shares related to iron and steel, nonferrous metal, nuclear power heavyweights, as well as online gaming and mobile payments led the gains.

The nonferrous metal sector was up across the board after the Ministry of Finance announced earlier in the morning that the export tariffs of several bulk commodities would be adjusted.

As of May, iron and steel granules and powders; rare earth; tungsten; and molybdenum will be exempt from export tariffs, and wrought aluminum products will enjoy a zero tax rate.

Many shares in the sector surged by the daily limit of 10 percent. China Northern Rare Earth (group) High-tech Co., gained 10 percent to close at 33.01 yuan per share. The Aluminum Corp. of China also soared by 10.02 percent to end at 9.55 yuan.

Stocks in the banking, air transportation and water conservation sectors were among the biggest losers. China Citic Bank lost 1.71 percent to end at 8.05 yuan. The Bank of Communications retreated 1.55 percent to close at 7 yuan.

Analysts expect more bullish performances in the future, as expectations for further loosening measures will drive investors to pile into the stock market.

China's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for April fell to a 12 month low of 49.2, according to a reading by HSBC released on Thursday. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.

The ChiNext Index, China's Nasdaq-style board that tracks growth enterprises, soared 2.7 percent, or 71.25 points, to end at 2,706.18 points.

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