Thu, Jan 26, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Business Quick Take

Agencies

ENVIRONMENT

China oil spill deal reached

ConocoPhillips says that it and China National Offshore Oil Corp (中國海洋石油) have reached a US$160 million agreement to settle compensation claims from oil spills off northeastern China. The Houston-based company said in a statement yesterday that the two reached an agreement with China’s Ministry of Agriculture over the oil spills in June last year in the Bohai Sea. The spills were considered small, especially compared with the Gulf of Mexico spills in 2010, but Conoco as operator of the Bohai field still came under intense media criticism in China. Conoco said the money would be used to settle public and private claims of potentially affected fishermen in relevant Bohai Bay communities.

SINGAPORE

Inflation stays above 5%

Singapore’s inflation rate exceeded 5 percent for a seventh month, and policymakers said prices will remain “elevated.” The consumer price index rose 5.5 percent last month from a year earlier, the Department of Statistics said in a statement yesterday. Inflation was 5.7 percent in November, according to previously reported data. Price gains averaged 5.2 percent last year, the government said.

AUSTRALIA

Q4 inflation held steady

Australian inflation held steady in the fourth quarter, data showed yesterday, a lower-than-expected result that stoked hopes for an interest-rate cut to boost a “quite sluggish” economy. The Consumer Price Index was flat in the three months to last month from the previous quarter, and 3.1 percent for last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said. Analysts had forecast rates of 0.2 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.

NATURAL GAS

Uzbekistan loan approved

The Asian Development Bank said yesterday it has approved a loan and political risk guarantee of up to US$400 million for a project to build Uzbekistan’s largest-ever petrochemical plant, which is expected to be operational in early 2016. The bank said the Surgil Natural Gas Chemicals Project would produce gas for commercial use and for conversion into chemical intermediates used in the plastics and textiles industries. Developer and operator Uz-Kor Gas Chemical of the project in the Karakalpakstan region is a joint venture between state-controlled National Holding Company Uzbekneftegaz and a consortium of South Korean firms — Honam Petrochemical Corp, the Korea Gas Corp and STX Energy.

STEEL

Japanese output may wane

Japan’s steel output may decline by between 2 million and 3 million tonnes this year, Japan Iron and Steel Federation chairman Eiji Hayashida said yesterday at a press briefing in Tokyo. Production of steel last year totaled 107.6 million tonnes, the federation said earlier. Tokyo Electric Power Co’s recent decision to increase prices for corporate customers will raise annual costs for steelmakers by about ¥20 billion (US$257 million), Hayashida said.

AVIATION

HK passenger traffic up 5.9%

The number of passengers handled by Hong Kong International Airport rose 5.9 percent last year from a year earlier to 53.9 million, the territory’s Airport Authority said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. Annual cargo performance decreased 4.6 percent to 3.9 million tonnes over the same period, the authority said, citing decreased exports.

WIRELESS

LM Ericsson Q4 profit drops

Swedish wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson AB says fourth-quarter profits fell by more than two-thirds compared with a year earlier due to a severe margin squeeze and bigger losses in its Sony Ericsson joint venture. The company yesterday reported a net profit for the fourth quarter of 1.15 billion kronor (US$170 million), down from 4.32 billion kronor in the October-December period in the previous year. Sales in the three-month period rose by 1 percent to 63.67 billion kronor — not enough to offset heavier pressure on its gross margin, which fell to 30.2 percent from a previous 34.7 percent. Losses in the Sony Ericsson joint venture also hurt the Stockholm-based company. Ericsson last year sold its share in Sony Ericsson to Sony, but the deal is being finalized in this quarter.

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