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A sharp drop in morning trade has put Chinese stocks on course for their biggest one-day drop of the year.

The Shanghai Composite is down 1.4 per cent, but had been as much as 1.9 per cent lower. It is the index’s biggest one-day fall since falling 2.5 per cent on December 12. The index has not closed more than 1 per cent weaker since that same day.

The index’s year-to-date performance has now been cut to a gain of 0.9 per cent, following a string of relatively hefty down days since the middle of this month.

The tech-focused Shenzhen Composite is down 1.9 per cent, but had fallen as much as 2.7 per cent. It is also at its lowest level since late January. Shenzhen stocks fell 2 per cent on March 30: should the surpass this, they’ll suffer their biggest one-day fall since January 16.

So far this year, the Shenzhen Composite has shed 4.2 per cent.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks mainland companies listed in Hong Kong, was up 0.4 per cent, while Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng was up 0.3 per cent.

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