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SHANGHAI, March 30 (Reuters) - China's COSCO Shipping Holdings Co Ltd made a loss last year of 9.9 billion yuan ($1.44 billion), the company reported on Thursday, due to both persistently weak freight rates and restructuring costs.
Freight shipping firms have been hit hard by a prolonged downturn in rates caused by overcapacity and a slowdown in global trade.
COSCO, the world's fourth-largest container shipping line, became a new company last year, born out of the merger of two major domestic shipping firms, making year-on-year comparisons difficult.
Since then it has been restructuring, selling some units at a loss and focusing on container shipping.
Revenue came in at 71.2 billion yuan.
COSCO said, however, it was seeing some positive signals in demand and expects the overall market this year to be better than that of 2016.
Its comments echo those of rivals including Denmark's Maersk Line and Germany's Hapag Lloyd, which have said the sector has entered a period of recovery with freight rates expected to rise this year.
Seeking to save costs on key shipping routes, COSCO has also formed a vessel-sharing alliance with France's CMA CGM , Taiwan's Evergreen Line and Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line that starts April 1. Shares in COSCO closed 0.28 percent higher in Hong Kong on Thursday before the results, while the Hang Seng index was down 0.37 percent. ($1 = 6.8880 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Greg Mahlich)