Sat, Feb 05, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

UMC says sales fall

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the world's second largest contract microchip maker, said yesterday its sales last month fell 19.6 percent to NT$7.14 billion (US$225.2 million) from December.

Last month's sales also marked a 13.9 percent decline year-on-year, the company said in a statement.

Its net profit last year more than doubled to NT$31.84 billion (US$1.0 billion) from NT$14.02 billion in 2003 as sales rose to NT$117.31 billion from NT$84.86 billion.

UMC had said earlier it expected the market to pick up from the second half of this year after reporting a slowdown in the three months to December.

Taiwan to raise interest rates

Taiwan's Central Bank of China (CBC) might follow the US by raising key interest rates in late March, probably within a range of between a quarter percentage point and an eighth percentage point, market watchers said Thursday.

Their comment came after the US Federal Reserve announced a fresh interest rate hike of a quarter percentage point a day earlier, pushing up its key interest rates to an average level of 2.5 percent.

The market analysts predicted that the CBC might follow in the footsteps of the US after holding a meeting of its board of directors and supervisors in late March, when the Fed is expected to raise its rates by another one quarter percentage point.

The CBC will be more likely to increase rates by 0.125 percentage points at the end of next month and is expected to keep on doing so piecemeal in the future, they said, adding that power and water rate increases and possible fallout in the economy are factors that could contribute changes to the bank's moves.

Nokia wins Far EasTone contract

Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest mobile-phone maker, won an order to expand the faster wireless network of Taiwan's second-biggest mobile-phone operator, Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信).

Nokia will expand the operator's network using the so-called wideband code-division multiple access technology, allowing faster data speeds, the Espoo, Finland-based company said in an e-mailed release on Thursday.

Foreign reserves balloon

Taiwan's foreign-currency reserves, the third-highest in the world, rose last month to a record US$243 billion, boosted by net foreign capital inflows and investment returns, the central bank said in a statement today.

The reserves, which trail those of Japan and China, rose for a 43rd month from US$242 billion in December, according to the Central Bank of China.

Financial sector value increases

The production value of the nation's financial sector increased to 11.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2003, the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) reported yesterday.

The ratio is a similar level to those of Hong Kong and Singapore, two of the world's key financial centers, CEPD officials said, adding that in an effort to balance the country's finances, the government imposed a reform package in April 2003.

Stressing that financial reform is a long-term goal of the government to bolster Taiwan's economic development, CEPD officials said that the reform has showed initial improvement.

NT dollar climbs

The New Taiwan dollar moved up against its US counterpart on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, gaining NT$0.016 to close at NT$31.623.

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