Inflation rate slows
The inflation rate slowed to a fourth-month low last month, as the consumer price index rose 1.4 percent from 2011, dragged down by falling prices of key items including pork, childcare facilities, medicine and televisions, government data showed yesterday. The figure for last month — the lowest since August when it rose 1.2 percent — was well within the central bank’s target inflation rate of 2 percent to 4 percent. From November, inflation was up 0.2 percent last month, according to state-run Statistics Korea. Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, rose 1.2 percent from 2011, compared to a 1.3 percent rise posted last month, and was up 0.2 percent month-on-month.
Parliament to pass budget
Parliament was expected to pass next year’s government budget yesterday after slightly expanding welfare spending programs in line with president-elect Park Geun-hye’s campaign pledges. Media cited officials at the ruling and main opposition parties yesterday as saying they now aimed to put their agreed version up for vote after winding up debate on minor issues at sub-committee meetings. The value of this year’s budget bill is expected to rise to about 342.7 trillion won (US$320.11 billion) from 342.5 trillion won, but there would be no big change in funding plans, media reports said. The government’s plan is to narrow the official fiscal deficit to 0.3 percent of GDP this year from a projected 1.1 percent deficit last year.
Firms win Bolivia gas bid
British Gas and Brazilian energy company Petrobras have won bids to explore for natural gas in Bolivia. Bolivia nationalized its energy industry in 2006, but has also been seeking more foreign investment to help tap its vast reserves. Bolivia’s state energy company YPFB announced in a statement on its Web site on Sunday that the British and Brazilian companies had been awarded areas to explore for gas. It said their investments would help boost exploration efforts in Bolivia, but it did not give details about the planned investments or the terms.
Ford hopes to sell 2.2m cars
Ford says it expects to sell 2.2 million vehicles this year, with the Ford Focus compact car being its most popular model. The Dearborn, Michigan, company says it is the second year in a row it will sell more than 2 million cars. It sold 737,856 Ford Focuses through September. The Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback and F-series trucks were other popular models, with Ford selling 560,061 Fiestas and 576,339 F-Series vehicles through September.
The Egyptian pound fell to a record low against the US dollar on Sunday as the central bank stepped into the market to try to stabilize trading and stop an anxious public that has been buying up dollars for fear of an even bigger dive in the local currency, bankers said. The pound slid more than 3 percent on the first trading day after the central bank introduced a new dollar auction system that bankers said appeared designed to allow a “controlled devaluation” of the Egyptian pound. Under the new auction system, the central bank sold all US$75 million on offer to banks on Sunday.