Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Economy picks up steam

The nation's economy continued to pick up steam last month, with indicators flashing a "yellow-red" light for the second straight month, signalling a slight overheating, official data showed yesterday.

The composite indicator rose to 35 points last month from a revised 34 in December, pointing to a slight overheating of the economy since January 2000, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said.

The index of leading indicators for last month came in at 106.1 points, up 0.5 percent from the previous month after a revised 1.7 percent month-on-month increase in December, it said.

The original reading of the December index of leading indicators was a 1.2-percent month-on-month rise.

Of the seven leading indicators for December, five contributed positively, including the wholesale price index.

■ Insurance rules relaxed

The government has decided to permit the country's insurance industry to invest in Chinese counterparts, with a stake of up to 25 percent in a single venture, the Ministry of Finance said Friday.

The move is considered necessary as authorities in China have implemented a set of stringent criteria for foreign insurance companies setting up ventures there, it said.

To qualify under Chinese rules, foreign insurers must have shown assets of no less than US$5 billion in the year before filing an application, must have been in business for more than 30 years and must have had a representative office in China for no less than two years.

■ Display prices to rise

Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) and a smaller rival will raise prices for notebook PC-sized flat-panel displays next month, the DigiTimes Web site reported.

Chunghwa Picture will raise its price for a panel measuring 15 inches diagonally to US$230 and HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶) will lift its price for the same-sized screen to US$240, the report said, without including the size of the increases.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子) may also raise prices, the Web site reported.

The nation's five suppliers have been raising prices for notebook-sized screens after some shifted production to larger TV screens, which resulted in shortages of laptop panels. Shortages of screen components such as color filters and glass have also contributed to price increases.

■ IBM to build Taiwan facility

International Business Machines (IBM) is planning to set up a PC server research and development (R&D) center by the end of the first quarter of this year, an IBM Taiwan executive said Thursday.

IBM Taiwan general manager Hsu Chu-sheng (許朱勝) made the remarks while giving a keynote speech called Taiwan on Demand at a seminar held in Beijing.

Chu said the purpose behind the company's R&D center in Taiwan is to manufacture more advanced products to meet public demand.

Recruitment of professionals for the planned 80-member team has already begun, Chu said.

IBM has so far opened eight R&D hubs and more than 20 development centers around the world, he said, adding that the planned PC server R&D hub in Taiwan will focus its research on low and middle-end personal computers in the initial stage.

■ NT dollar falls

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded lower against its US counterpart, dropping US$0.054 to close at NT$33.365 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.

Turnover was US$886 million.

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