Profits at Chinas oil producers,steel makers and other major industrial companies fell sharply in January and February as sales were battered by the global economic crisis,data showed on Friday. The data highlighted the impact of Chinas downturn on even its biggest companies despite a multibillion-dollar government stimulus plan. Hardest-hit were producers of aluminium and other non-ferrous metals,which suffered a net loss of 1.9 billion yuan ($277 million),the National Bureau of Statistics said. It said the iron and steel industry suffered a net loss of 770 million yuan ($112 million),though the biggest producers have said they were still profitable.
Chinas overall economic growth slowed to 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter from 2007s stunning 13 per cent rate as exports plunged and domestic sales of real estate,autos and other goods weakened. Independent economists expect growth as low as 5 per cent this year,which would be the fastest for any major economy but would hurt companies that rely on rapid growth in exports and investment.