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Sinopec Q4 net profit falls 30 percent, misses estimates

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - China Petroleum and Chemical Corp <0386.HK>, the country's second largest integrated oil company, posted a 30 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, missing forecasts, as massive losses at its refining arm offset upstream gains.

The fourth-quarter earnings of Asia's largest refiner, also known as Sinopec Corp <600028.SS> , totaled 10.3 billion yuan ($1.63 billion), compared with a forecast of 15.21 billion yuan, according to Reuters calculations.

The company's full-year net profit rose 1.4 percent to 71.7 billion yuan from 70.7 billion yuan in 2010. That lagged a consensus forecast of 76.6 billion yuan from 32 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sinopec suffered heavy refining losses last year as increases in domestic prices for oil products failed to keep pace with stronger rises in international crude prices.

China's fuel price hikes often come smaller and later than required under its pricing formula due to inflation concerns, leaving refiners saddled with mounting losses.

Chinese oil firms make a profit on oil and gas production, fuel sales and chemical businesses but their refineries bear the brunt of losses caused by government price controls.

Sinopec's Hong Kong-listed shares ended down 0.35 percent on Friday. They gained 9.8 percent in 2011, outperforming peers PetroChina <0857.HK> and CNOOC <0883.HK>, which lost 4.8 percent and 26 percent, respectively, in the same period.

($1 = 6.3078 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Wan Xu and Charlie Zhu; Editing by Mark Potter)

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