China Life H1 profit falls 32 pct on weak stock market

HONG KONG Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:45am EDT

HONG KONG Aug 25 (Reuters) - China Life Insurance Co (2628.HK) (LFC.N), the country's top life insurer, posted a 32 percent decrease in first-half profit on Monday but beat forecasts, as a drop in China's equity market hurt the company's investment income.

China Life (601628.SS), which leads rival Ping An Insurance (Group) Co (2318.HK) (601318.SS) in the mainland market, said it earned 15.8 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) in the first half, compared with 23.3 billion yuan in the year-earlier period.

On average, four analysts polled by Reuters expected China Life's first-half profits to be 11.7 billion yuan.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 48 percent in the first half of the year amid a global market selloff and China's tightening efforts to cool inflation.

China Life's Shanghai-listed A shares have fallen 56 percent so far this year while its Hong Kong shares are down 31 percent, compared with a 24 percent decrease in the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI during the same period.

(US$1=HK$7.8=6.84 yuan)

(Reporting by Kennix Chim, editing by )

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