SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China COSCO Holdings Co Ltd <601919.SS><1919.HK> fell to a first-half loss hurt by a persistent slump in the global container market, the world's fourth largest container shipper said on Thursday.

COSCO Shipping reported a first-half loss of 7.2 billion yuan ($1.08 billion yuan) versus a profit of 1.9 billion a year earlier, the company said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange.

COSCO is grappling with weak global demand that has dragged down the sector.

In the first quarter, it reported a net loss of 4.5 billion yuan.

China COSCO is part of China Cosco Shipping Corporation (COSCOCS), a shipping giant created earlier this year from the state-driven merger of former rivals China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company [COSCO.UL] and China Shipping Group [CNSHI.UL].

Global shipping is mired in its longest downturn in three decades as operators struggle with an oversupply of vessels and depressed freight rates.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Lee Chyen Yee; editing by Jason Neely)