■ Taipei's CPI increases sharply
The consumer price index in Taipei City averaged 104.34 for last year, a 2.38 percent growth year on year and marking the largest increase in nine years, the municipal Department of Budget, Accounting and Statistics reported yesterday. Taipei registered the second-largest growth rate, behind only Seoul, among major cities in East Asia, municipal department officials said, pointing out that all categories of spending increased last year in Taiwan's largest city, except for clothes. Attributing the increase mainly to price rises in foodstuffs and oil products, they said the index for foodstuff prices in Taipei surged the most last year among all categories -- by 5.66 percent -- as a result of floods and typhoons that summer, while rising oil prices pushed up the transport index by 1.54 percent and the index for travel, education and entertainment by 1.66 percent. The index for housing spending rose by 0.5 percent -- the first hike in five years, while the rental index rose by 0.02 percent -- breaking a continued decline for the previous four years.
■ Money supply increases
The nation's money supply increased last month for the first month in four due to active trading in the stock market and a net increase in foreign capital inflows, the central bank said. M2, the broadest measure of the island's money supply, rose 6.6 percent from a year ago after gaining 6.1 percent in November, the Central Bank of China said yesterday in a statement. M1A, which tracks net currency in circulation plus checking accounts and passbook deposits, expanded 6.7 percent last month after increasing 6 percent in November, the central bank said. M1B, which excludes time deposits and foreign-currency deposits included in M2, rose 6.6 percent last month, after expanding 5.4 percent the previous month.
■ Sanyo Electric cedes control
Sanyo Electric Co, the world's biggest rechargeable battery maker, will cede management control to investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc in return for a ¥300 billion (US$2.6 billion) bailout to help stem record losses. The company is selling 428.6 million of preferred shares to Goldman Sachs, Daiwa Securities SMBC Co and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. The securities will be sold at ¥700 apiece, with each one convertible into 10 common shares, Osaka-based Sanyo said in a statement yesterday. Sanyo needs cash to pay for a three-year restructuring plan that includes cutting 15 percent of its workforce, closing factories and investing in solar panels and batteries.
■ Ten-year government bonds fall
Ten-year government bonds fell as some investors cut their holdings before trading closes today for the Lunar New Year holidays. The bonds snapped a three-day gain as the volume of trading slumped to 3 percent of that for Tuesday, according to Gretai Securities Market, the nation's biggest market place for bonds. Gretai will be closed today through Feb. 2. Trading totaled NT$5.6 billion (US$175 million), down from NT$165 billion yesterday, according to Gretai. The 10-year yield has risen about two basis points since Jan. 10 on concern rising oil prices may stoke inflation. Crude oil in New York has advanced 5.1 percent in the period and is 34 percent higher than a year ago.
■ NT dollar gains
The New Taiwan dollar gained ground against its US counterpart yesterday, advancing NT$0.01 to close at NT$31.970 on the Taipei foreign exchange market. A total of US$1.08 billion changed hands during the day's trading.