Weibo shares surge on US debut, despite low opening price

Weibo logo Internet users have regularly tapped into Weibo to share unfiltered information

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Shares in China's Weibo, a Twitter-like service, rose by almost 20% on their first day of trading on the US stock market, after a lukewarm start.

The company's flotation on the Nasdaq stock exchange had initially raised a less-than-expected $286m (£170m).

However, investors flocked to the shares, and they ended the day at $20.24, after opening at $17.

The number of Weibo users fell after China's censors strengthened control of online discussions last year.

The China Internet Network Information Center said in its annual report that almost 28 million people abandoned Weibo in 2013.

The sale is a big test of demand for Chinese internet stocks ahead of an anticipated listing by Weibo's co-owner, the Alibaba group.

China's internet market has grown to become the world's biggest with more than 500 million users.

With major global social networking firms such as Facebook and Twitter blocked in the country, domestic companies have benefited the most from this growth.

However, the growing popularity of social media platforms has also attracted the attention of authorities who have moved swiftly to silence voices online.

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