Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

■ Forex reserves hit record high

Taiwan's foreign-currency reserves, the third highest in the world, rose to a record US$257.3 billion last month as more foreign capital entered the country, the Central Bank of China said yesterday. Taiwan's reserves, which trail those of Japan and China, advanced from US$253.3 billion in December, the Bank said in a statement. The previous record was US$254.1 billion in August last year. Gains by the yen and the euro caused reserves in those currencies to increase in value, the Bank said. In the first 25 days of the year, foreign institutional investors' net purchase of Taiwanese stocks reached NT$37.9 billion (US$1.2 billion), according to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

■ Health club shuts three days

Alexander Health Club (亞力山大俱樂部) yesterday announced that it would shut down all its 27 branches nationwide for three days starting today to conduct full safety inspections and install carbon monoxide detectors. The branches will reopen at 6am next Tuesday, said Alexander chairwoman Candy Tang (唐雅君), at a press conference. These unprecedented measures came after a gas poisoning tragedy occurred at one of its Taipei branches on Tuesday that left one person dead and another 11 injured. Tang promised to compensate these victims and their relatives, but did not provide detailed figures. As the three-day break may inconvenience its members, all Alexander memberships will be extended by three months, Tang said.

■ GDP forecast may be raised

The government may revise up its economic growth forecast for this year on rising overseas sales, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported, citing the nation's statistics bureau. The statistics bureau may lift its growth projection this year to more than 4.1 percent, from its November prediction of 4.08 percent, the daily said. Taiwan's export orders, indicative of actual shipments in one to three months, grew more than 20 percent for a fifth straight month in December as global demand for liquid-crystal-display panels and semiconductors increased. The bureau is scheduled to release Taiwan's fourth-quarter economic growth figures and give its economic outlook for this year on Feb. 23.

■ Electric car batteries developed

A Taiwan research institute has successfully developed safer, cleaner and cheaper lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries for electric vehicles. The Materials and Chemical Research Laboratories (MCL) under the Industrial Technology Research Institute said most lithium iron batteries currently used in electric vehicles use lithium nickel oxide or lithium manganese dioxide as cathode materials, which are more costly and not as safe. According to the MCL, the two main obstacles in the application of lithium iron phosphate material lay in patent rights and power discharge, both of which the institute has overcome by working with the Canadian-based Phostech Lithium Inc, developing the cylindrical high-power LiFePO4 batteries for electric vehicles. The LiFeP04 batteries have passed all the rigorous safety tests conducted by the laboratory, the MCL said.

■ NT dollar loses ground

The New Taiwan dollar lost ground to the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, declining NT$0.109 to close at NT$32.094. A total of US$729 million changed hands during the day's trading.

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