■ Fuel prices up
State-run Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC, 中油) announced yesterday that it would increase the wholesale gasoline price by NT$1 per liter and diesel by NT$1.1, effective from midnight last night.
The increases are the biggest since April 19 last year.
The adjusted retail price for 98-octane unleaded gasoline is NT$28.2, 95-octane unleaded gasoline is NT$26.7, 92-octane unleaded gasoline is NT$26 and top-grade diesel oil is NT$22.9 per liter, CPC said in a statement yesterday.
Rival Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) announced that it would match the increases, effective from 2am today.
■ BenQ sales slip
BenQ Corp (明基), the nation's biggest cellphone maker, said consolidated sales fell 46 percent last month from a year earlier to NT$10.5 billion (US$318 million).
BenQ plans to boost its marketing budget by as much as 30 percent this year and to sponsor soccer's Euro 2008 tournament as it seeks to increase sales, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
BenQ in September stopped funding its unprofitable German handset unit about a year after acquiring it from Siemens AG, and fired 800 workers at its Shanghai factory and Beijing research center in the fourth quarter.
The company's sales were NT$19.5 billion in January last year, according to BenQ's Web site.
The company aims to increase sales of phones using Microsoft Corp's Windows Mobile operating system to one-third of its shipments as it seeks to end a run of four unprofitable quarters by selling more high-end models, BenQ chief marketing officer Jerry Wang (王文燦) said by phone yesterday.
■ High Tech sales up
High Tech Computer Corp (HTC, 宏達電), the world's largest maker of mobile phones that use Microsoft Corp's Windows Mobile operating system, said sales rose 9.9 percent last month.
Revenue climbed to NT$7.9 billion (US$240 million) from NT$7.19 billion a year earlier, the company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday. Sales fell from NT$8.11 billion in December, the Taoyuan-based company said.
Shares of HTC declined by 1.44 percent to close at NT$478 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.
■ Homestays prove popular
The number of homestay providers around the nation increased to 2,001 last year, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.
Of that number, 1,704 are licensed, up 42.7 percent from the year before, it said.
Licensed homestay providers offer a total of 6,836 rooms, and Hualien, Nantou and Ilan counties are home to the largest number of providers, it said.
While Hualien County saw homestay providers soar 73.5 percent from the previous year to 439 last year, the number in Nantou and Ilan counties rose more than 20 percent to 347 and 240 respectively.
Because of competition from homestay providers, hotel occupancy around the country fell to 69.2 percent last year, down 2.8 percentage points from 2005. The occupancy rate for international-class hotels also registered a drop of 2.9 percentage points, figures showed.
The rates for international-class hotel rooms averaged NT$3,272 (US$99.50) per night last year, up 5.1 percent from 2005, while those for ordinary hotel rooms averaged NT$2,222 per night, up 5 percent, the figures showed.
■ NT dollar weakens
The NT dollar lost ground against the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, declining NT$0.051 to close at NT$32.968 on turnover of US$990 million.
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