Account surplus falls
The nation’s current account surplus fell for the second straight month last month, but exports increased and the central bank yesterday forecast a record surplus by the end of the year. The current account surplus stood at US$6.77 billion last month, the Bank of Korea said, down from US$7.24 billion in June and a record US$8.64 billion in May. Exports rose 3.8 percent on-year to US$48.39 billion and imports gained 3.5 percent to US$42.71 billion last month, resulting in a US$5.68 billion trade surplus. For the first seven months of the year, the current-account surplus totalled US$36.55 billion and the central bank said it expected a total surplus this year of US$53 billion, exceeding last year’s record of US$43.14 billion.
Toyota seeks to expand
Toyota said on Wednesday that it plans a new push to boost its market share in Latin America, saying it underperforms in Brazil and Mexico, the region’s largest economies. Mark Hogan, former president of Magna International and former General Motors executive, who became the first American to serve on Toyota’s board of directors on June 1, told reporters that Toyota needs to expand its footprint in the two countries. He said the company in addition needs more capacity in Mexico, where its market share is also about 5 percent.
Interest rate raised
The Central Bank on Wednesday raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point to nine percent in a bid to curb surging inflation, it said. The bank’s monetary policy committee said the move “will help set inflation on the decline and ensure that trend continues into next year.” It was the fourth consecutive increase this year as the real has depreciated against the dollar in a volatile market roiled by expectations of tighter US monetary policy. Last month, 12-month inflation reached 6.27 percent, below but very close to the upper limit of the government target of 6.5 percent.
Carrefour posts large profit
French big box store Carrefour posted a significant profit in the first half of the year, hailing it as a sign that its turnaround plan is beginning to bear fruit. Europe’s largest retailer by sales said yesterday that its net income rose to 902 million euros (US$1.2 billion). However, much of that boost — about 380 million euros — was from operations the company is discontinuing, raising questions about whether the company can stay profitable. Still, the results were an improvement on last year, when Carrefour reported a loss of 31 million euros in the first half. The company said that excluding asset sales and other elements not counted in this year’s reporting, its net profit last year would have been 3 million euros.
Wii U system price to be cut
Nintendo Co announced on Wednesday that it is cutting the price of its Wii U video-game system as it braces for the fall release of competing consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo will reduce the price of the Wii U deluxe set from US$349.99 to US$299.99, effective on Sept. 20. The company will also release a Wii U bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, a remake of the 2003 game, that will also be available from Sept. 20 for US$299.99.