Sat, May 03, 2003 - Page 11 News List

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STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Wholesale LPG prices cut

Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化), the oil refining unit of Formosa Plastics Group (台塑), has cut its wholesale prices of liquefied petroleum gas to reflect a drop in crude oil costs.

Formosa Petrochemical has cut the price of LPG used by households and to power automobiles by NT$2.50 a kilogram, the company said in a statement.

The state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) will match Formosa Petrochemical's cut, the company said in a statement, citing the cost of the raw material crude oil fell.

These two oil refiners have also cut prices of the gas for industrial use by NT$2.8 a kilogram, they said. The price cuts were effective as of midnight last night, they said.

Explorer launch on May 10

Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和),the local joint venture in which the US automaker has a 70 percent stake, said yesterday that it will launch the new Explorer sport-utility vehicle on May 10 targeting preliminary sales up to 50 vehicles per month.

The new 4-liter Explorer is aimed to strengthen Ford Lio Ho's dominance in the nation's SUV market, company president Jeffrey Shen (沈英銓) said yesterday at a press conference.

"Ford sold some 880,000 SUVs in the world last year with Explorer accounting for 54 percent out of that," Shen said. "The SUV market is growing in Taiwan after we introduced the Escape SUV here in 2001."

The new Explorer will have a base price of NT$1.68 million and is expected to compete directly with Lexus RX330, Mitsubishi Pajero, Infiniti QX4 and General Motors models, said Jeff Lee (李應生), marketing manager for Ford Lio Ho.

The automaker said it expects to regain market share with its SUV lineup, despite the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"The disease outbreak has so far created no problem for our auto production at home," said York Chen (陳遠清), vice president of marketing and sales.

"But if the outbreak prolonged longer than expected, it may hurt our sales this year," Chen said.

MediaTek sees Q2 sales drop

MediaTek Inc (聯發科技), the world's biggest maker of chips for DVD players, forecast sales in the second quarter will decline by less than 10 percent from the first three months as demand for computer-related products slows, said spokesman Yu Mingto (喻銘鐸).

The company earlier said first-quarter sales rose to NT$8.6 billion ($247 million) from NT$7 billion a year ago.

NT dollar gains

The New Taiwan dollar rose and had its biggest weekly gain against the US dollar in four months as international investors snapped up the nation's stocks.

The NT dollar gained NT$0.057, or 0.2 percent, to NT$34.792 against the greenback, its strongest close since April 18. Turnover was US$394 million. The local currency rose 0.4 percent this week, the most since the week ended Jan. 10.

Overseas fund managers bought a net NT$12 billion ($345 million) of equities this week, according to Bloomberg data.

"There's a slight effect from stock demand by overseas investors on the Taiwan dollar," said Chris Lin, a trader at Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (彰化銀行).

Concern about the economic impact of SARS hasn't yet cut demand for the nation's assets and currency, Lin said.

"How SARS will affect Taiwan will depend on whether investment will flow out," Lin said.

"But if overseas investors are still going to be net buyers of Taiwan's stocks, that means it'll reduce any" negative "effect we get from SARS," he said.

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