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Stocks in India closed in negative territory for the fifth consecutive trading session Friday, after the government released inflation data that came in at a 42-month high. India's wholesale price index (WPI) rose to 7.61% in the 12 months ending April 26, vs. the previous week's reading of 7.57%.

Traders said the bears are in complete control of the markets after the Sensex Index crashed through the psychologically important 17,000 level. The Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex Index ended down 343.58 points, or 2%, at 16,737.07.

"The market is still very weak and participation is very low amid soaring crude prices and rising inflation," said Trinadh Kiran, head of e-broking at New Delhi-based Unicon Securities. "It is better to stay on the sidelines and watch for definite cues now in the market," Kiran added.

On Wednesday, Indian commodities market regulators installed a ban on futures trading in potato, soy oil, rubber and chana for four months, in an effort to cool rising food prices. Recently, the Indian government cut duties on some imports and banned some exports to help ease inflation concerns. Dealers said now there's talk that officials will ask cement companies to cut prices.

"More administrative steps will be taken if and when they become necessary," Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said. "It has come as a big relief that inflation in the current week is statistically stable compared with last week's figure," the minister said.

The Department of Telecom has decided to put off a decision to sell a 26% stake in

Tata Communications


until the issue surrounding the company's surplus land holdings is settled, according to

. American depositary shares of Tata Communications, which trade on the


, finished essentially flat at $23.73.

Indian mining company

Sterlite Industries

(SLT) - Get Pacer Salt High truBeta US Market ETF Report

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, the Orissa government and

Orissa Mining Corporation

have been asked by the Indian Supreme Court to file an affidavit to jointly form a special purpose vehicle (SPV), according to

. The purpose of the SPV will be to absorb the financial costs of social and environmental safeguards for the areas affected by the bauxite mining project in Orissa. Shares of Sterlite fell 2.5% to $20.40.

The only bright spot among Indian ADRs Friday was the technology complex.

Sify Technologies

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traded up 2.3% to $4.80;

Satyam Computer


added 1.9% to $26.02;


(WNS) - Get WNS (Holdings) Limited Sponsored ADR (Jersey) Report

rose 1.5% to $18.04; and

Patni Computer Systems

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finished up 1.2% at $12.81.

Be sure to check out the

Far East Portfolio

at every night to find out which stocks in India and China are making big moves and announcing major news.

China Recap

Chinese stocks finished in the red Friday after the producer price index, which is widely used as an inflation indicator, hit a three-year high at 8.1% for April. Fearing that even worse inflation data could be released on Monday, when China is due to report its April CPI data, Far East investors dumped equities going into the weekend.

"Investors want to see whether the central bank will take any further tightening measures in light of what the figures show," said Patrick Shum, strategist at Karl Thomson Securities in Hong Kong.

Traders said that major market players will be watching the 25,000 level on the Hang Seng for critical support. A break of that level with volume could bring out more sellers.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 43.35 points, or 1.19%, to 3,613.49 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dove 386.62 points, or 1.5%, to 25,063.17. Markets in Hong Kong will be closed on Monday for a public holiday.

Crude oil prices hit another record high Friday topping $126 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The high crude prices, coupled with bullish investor sentiment ahead of Monday's earnings report for

JA Solar


, helped spur interest in the Chinese alternative energy stocks. JA Solar rose 7.7% to $23.54;


(SOL) - Get Renesola Ltd. ADR Report

ripped higher by 11% to $18;

LDK Solar


jumped 5.8% to $37.05; and

Solarfun Power


finished up 4.9% at $14.85.

Piper Jaffray lifted its rating on Chinese generic-drug developer

Simcere Pharmaceutical Group


from neutral to buy with an $18 price target. Jaffray believes that worries over the company's generic-drug competition are overdone. The investment bank also cited three major catalysts for the shares including the Biapenem injection approval, Endu phase IV data and a presentation at the Chinese Oncology conference in August. Shares of Simcere jumped 6.3% to $14.68 on twice the stock's average daily trading volume.

China's leading media company

Xinhua Finance Media


announced it has inked a three-year deal with a major China auto advertiser for promotion campaigns on radio stations in China's three top cities. Shares of XFML finished up 1% at $4.01.

Harbin Electric


, a market leader in customized linear motors, motor/controller automation systems, automobile specialty micro-motors and other special motors, reported record revenue and operating profits for the first quarter of 2008, due to strong sales of its specialty micro-motors. Total revenue soared 65% to $22.5 million, vs. $13.6 million for the previous year and operating profits surged 68% to $8.6 million. First-quarter net income rose 57% to $5.4 million and diluted EPS was 27 cents, vs. 19 cents for the previous year. Shares of Harbin traded up 3% to $17.20 on twice the average daily trading volume.

Chinese video-game developers were in hot demand Friday after U.S.-based video game company


(ATVI) - Get Activision Blizzard Inc Report

reported a 93% rise in first-quarter revenue.

The9 Limited

(NCTY) - Get The9 Limited Report

jumped 4% to $21.84;

Shanda Interactive Entertainment

(SNDA) - Get Sonida Senior Living Inc. Report

traded up 5.6% to $35.79;

Perfect World


added 2.5% to $30.88; and

(NTES) - Get NetEase Inc. 網易 Report

closed higher by 2.6% at $23.25.

Be sure to check out the

Far East Portfolio

at every night to find out which stocks in India and China are making big moves and announcing major news.

For more on Asia, check out

Daniel Harrison's coverage



This article was written by a staff member of