■ Mattel defends Barbies
US toy maker Mattel Inc reassured consumers that its staple Barbie dolls are safe and will not cause health defects, according to a statement released by Mattel Taiwan Corp yesterday. The statement is in response to a report by China's Xinhua news agency which cited a German ecology magazine as saying that among 30 toys examined by the magazine, 24 contained phthalates, including Barbie. Phthalates are chemicals added to soften plastic vinyl, and will cause damage to liver and testes and trigger reproductive effects and even cancer if one exposes to the substance for a long term above maximum contaminant level. Barbie and other toys made by Mattel were found to contain phthalates, but the company announced that it began introducing organically-derived material that does not contain phthalates for use in every Mattel product line in December 1999. Mattel said its products were strictly monitored and passed examinations of Corporate Product Integrity, US Consumer Product Safety, Commission Health Canada and other international certification institutions, the statement said.
■ NT dollar gains ground
The NT dollar strengthened for a third day. The currency edged up NT$0.032 to NT$33.461 against its US counterpart, according to Taipei Forex Inc. Overseas funds bought a net NT$17.97 billion (US$536.6 million) of Taiwanese stocks last month before purchasing a net NT$2.99 billion this month through yesterday, according to the stock exchange.