SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese stocks rose sharply on Friday, recovering almost all of Thursday's 4.52 percent loss, as confidence returned after a brief panic in response to high inflation data.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 3.92 percent higher at 3,584.204 points, less than 1 percent below Wednesday's finish of 3,612.396.
Turnover in Shanghai A shares was heavy at 155.1 billion yuan ($20.1 billion), although down from Thursday's record 186.7 billion yuan. Gainers far outnumbered losers by 848 to 8.
"What we saw today was a relief rally," said Shanghai Securities analyst Zhang Yong. "A lot of people were worried that the data would be bad, but the numbers released yesterday showed that these concerns were exaggerated."
Thursday's tumble was caused by news that consumer price inflation jumped to 3.3 percent in March from 2.7 percent in February. That makes a 0.27 percentage point hike in benchmark interest rates likely in coming days or weeks, analysts said.
But many investors viewed Thursday's drop as a natural pull-back after a spectacular rise -- the index had surged 26 percent from the end of February to this week's record high -- rather than as the beginning of an extended slide.
While the market may stay volatile in coming weeks as investors worry about inflation, strong support for the index is believed to lie around 3,200 points and around 3,000, a level which capped the market in January and February.
Mainland-listed automakers rose strongly amid a flow of news from the 2007 Shanghai Auto Show, Asia's premier auto industry event.
Truck maker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. jumped 9.54 percent to 10.68 yuan after it said it would market its first small sedan in the third quarter of this year, targeting sales of 200,000 units in 2010.
Shanghai Auto (600104.SS) and Changan Auto both rose more than 4 percent.
Shares in the property sector, which could be among the hardest hit by an interest rate rise, jumped on Friday after having led Thursday's decline.
Vanke, China's biggest listed property developer, gained 2.81 percent to 17.93 yuan, regaining some of the 7 percent it lost on Thursday.
China Eastern Airlines, the country's third-largest airline, rose 4.95 percent to 5.73 yuan following a sharp drop on Thursday.
The company said on Friday that its 2006 earnings were seriously hurt by high international prices of crude oil and jet fuel, but that demand for commercial flights was expected to grow in 2007.
Datang Telecom was one of the few shares to fall on Friday, after it issued a statement denying reports that its parent company was planning to list all of its major assets.
Datang Telecom shares, resuming trade after a suspension since April 16 pending an announcement, ended 3.12 percent lower at 19.89 yuan.
Shares in Tsingtao Brewery, China's second-largest beer maker, jumped 3.0 percent to 19.23 yuan after it posted a better-than-expected 76.9 percent rise in second-half earnings.