Chinese share prices edged up on Friday, closing out the week slightly higher after five days of losses, but volume shrank amid weak investor confidence.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.56 percent, or 13.53 points, to 2,450.61. The Shenzhen Component Index closed at 8,233.41 points, down 45.24 points, or 0.55 percent.
Aggregate turnover fell to 41.79 billion yuan from 43.06 billion yuan on the previous day, another 21-month low. Losses outnumbered gains by 789 to 709 on both bourses.
Wu Kongyin, an analyst with the United Securities, said investors' confidence was still weak and their caution was very evident.
Steel stocks provided a boost to the index. Panyu Titanium Co., a listed branch of Panzhihua Iron and Steel Corp., surged 10.02 percent to 10.98 yuan.
Angang Steel Co., a leading domestic steel maker, gained 0.79 percent to 10.21 yuan. Liu Xiaopeng, a Jiangnan Securities analyst, said this was spurred by news that Angang was investing 1.7 billion yuan to increase its stake in the Sichuan-based Panzhihua Iron and Steel.
However, Baosteel edged down 1.41 percent to 7.01 yuan, as the largest domestic steel maker came under the pressure of 11.9 billion non-tradable shares to be unlocked on Aug. 19.
Large-cap oil shares gained on softening global oil prices, with Sinopec, Asia's leading refiner, up 0.57 percent to 10.66 yuan and PetroChina up 1.99 percent to 13.87 yuan.
Olympic-themed stocks ended their losing streak as bargain-hunters moved in. The century-old Beijing roast duck chain Quanjude bounced 0.89 percent to 36.28 yuan.
China Youth Travel Service gained 0.89 percent to 10.15 yuan after it announced on Friday that its first-half net profits rose 2.43 percent to 72.75 million yuan.
Excess supply was a problem because "the unlocking of non-tradable shares and listed companies' insatiable demand for equity refinancing" meant there was a need for fresh capital. But "wary investors are broadly cashing in their shares," said Cao Honghui, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
He suggested that to restore confidence, regulators should improve the market structure including the pricing, trading and issuing systems.