■ Economy picks up slightly
The economy continued to show signs of a slowdown last month, but activity did pick up slightly compared with June, the government said yesterday.
Under a regular monitoring system on key indicators, the economy scored 22 points last month, up from 21 points in June but still giving a "yellow-blue light" signal for a slowdown, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said.
The main index -- comprising seven indicators including wholesale prices and export orders received by the manufacturing industry -- is designed to measure the nation's economic activity three months in advance.
The index of leading indicators for last month stood at 110.2 points, down 0.5 percent from June, when it registered a 0.3 percent month-on-month increase, the council said.
■ More REITs on the market
Cathay Financial Holding Co's (國泰金控) second batch of real estate investment trusts (REITs) product is expected to hit the market on Friday after obtaining the financial regulator's green light yesterday, the company said in a statement released yesterday.
The REITs, dubbed "Cathay No. 2," is worth NT$7.2 billion (US$219 million) and backed by three commercial buildings located in Taipei City that have seen almost full occupancy, the statement read.
Cathay No. 2 earned Fitch Ratings' A(twn) and F1(twn) in long-term and short-term ratings with a stable outlook. Investors will be paid with dividends twice a year in June and December.
Meanwhile, Cathay Financial is expected to garner NT$4 billion in income from the issuance of this REITs product.
■ Foreign stake in airlines rises
The government plans to allow foreign investors to own up to 49 percent of airlines based in Taiwan, compared with the current limit of one-third, as it looks to attract more funds from overseas.
The move, which has been agreed to by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, still requires approval from Cabinet and the legislature, George Lee (李仲榮), deputy director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, said in a phone interview yesterday.
The government is increasing the level of foreign ownership allowed in domestic industries. This month it allowed foreign investors to own 49 percent of Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation's largest phone company, from 40 percent previously. The 50 percent cap on power plant ownership was removed in January 2002.
"We're inclined to becoming more open on foreign investment," Lee said.
China Airlines (華航), the nation's largest carrier, is 4.7 percent owned by overseas investors. Government-controlled China Aviation Development Foundation holds 65 percent in the carrier.
Foreign holdings in EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) totaled 25 percent.
■ Wu Chin-jen to head Nanya
Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation's second-biggest memory-chip maker, named Wu Chin-jen (吳欽仁) as its new chairman.
Wu replaced Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) yesterday, the Taoyuan-based company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
Wang, Taiwan's richest man, resigned this year as chairman of companies he founded, including Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化), Formosa Plastics Corp (台塑) and Formosa Chemicals and Fiber Corp (台塑化纖).
■ NT dollar drops
The New Taiwan dollar lost ground against the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, decreasing NT$0.030 to close at NT$32.918. A total of US$881 million changed hands during the day's trading.