Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Gasoline prices drop NT$0.1

Domestic gasoline prices will be lowered by NT$0.1 per liter today, while diesel prices will remain unchanged, state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) said yesterday.

After the adjustment, CPC’s price for a liter of 98-octane unleaded gasoline will be NT$24.3, 95-octane unleaded gasoline will cost NT$22.8, and 92-octane unleaded gasoline NT$22.1.

Diesel will be priced at NT$19.3.

Rival Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化), the nation’s only publicly traded oil refiner, said it would match CPC’s price adjustment, and that its new prices would also take effect from today.

CPC said it would not raise its prices if world crude oil prices were to increase during the Lunar New Year holiday, but if oil prices fall, consumers are likely to see downward adjustments at the gas pumps.

The next possible price decrease could be seen on Feb. 2, it added.

On Feb. 6, oil prices will revert back to market mechanisms to be reflected at the pumps the following day, CPC said.

Apple iPhone helps Chunghwa

Apple Inc’s iPhone helped Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation’s largest phone operator, boost subscribers and revenue during the first month the handset went on sale, a Chunghwa executive said yesterday.

Chunghwa’s total subscribers for high-speed wireless services climbed 122,000 last month, 17 percent more than the monthly average additions for the year through November, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the Taipei-based operator.

“Apple’s iPhone was definitely a big boost, helping us increase users,” Shih Mu-piao (石木標), vice president of Taipei-based Chunghwa, said in an interview yesterday, declining to provide iPhone subscriber numbers.

The company beat out Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) for the right to sell the touch-screen, Internet-capable handset, which was released for pre-sale on Nov. 29.

A Lunar New Year promotion, in which customers could swap NT$3,600 (US$107) in government-issued spending vouchers for an iPhone, may help Chunghwa surpass its target of 50,000 iPhone users by the end of March, Shih said.

Average revenue per user for iPhone customers is around NT$1,600 a month, compared with the company’s overall average of NT$700, Shih said.

China Steel posts pretax loss

China Steel Corp (中鋼), the nation’s largest maker of the metal, swung to a pretax loss in the fourth quarter because of weak demand.

The mill posted a pretax loss of NT$18.3 billion (US$545 million) in the fourth quarter, the Kaohsiung-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, without giving a comparison.

China Steel had a pretax profit of NT$15 billion in the three months ended December 2007, according to Bloomberg calculations based on previous stock exchange filings.

The global recession hurt demand for commodities, prompting China Steel to lower domestic prices by 23 percent in the first quarter, with some customers being given price reductions retroactively in the fourth quarter, the company said.

China Steel booked a loss of NT$11.1 billion because of the reduced value of inventories in the fourth quarter.

Full-year pretax profit totaled NT$30.3 billion, China Steel said. That was 51 percent lower than the NT$61.7 billion posted in 2007, according to a previous filing.

CPT, Samsung sign agreement

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