Australian output expands
Gold output in Australia, the world’s second-biggest producer, expanded for a second quarter in the period ended September because of higher ore grades, according to mining consultant Surbiton Associates Pty. Production was 69.5 tonnes compared with 67 tonnes in the previous three months, Melbourne-based Surbiton said in a statement. Output was 62 tonnes in the same period a year earlier, it said. Gold climbed 7.6 percent in the third quarter, the first such gain in a year, after a slump into a bear market in April spurred sales of coins, jewelry and bars. Bullion tumbled 26 percent this year amid speculation that the US Federal Reserve will scale back monthly bond buying that helped prices cap a 12-year bull run last year. “The higher production was due to the treatment of higher ore grades and this, in turn, reduced cash costs,” said Sandra Close, a director at Surbiton.
OPEC expected to sit tight
OPEC is set to meet in Austria this week to decide on the cartel’s oil output against a backdrop of slowing crude demand and unrest in member nation Libya. Supplying about one-third of the world’s oil, the cartel is expected to maintain its output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day when it meets at its Vienna headquarters on Wednesday, even though it is currently producing under the limit. Brent North Sea crude for January, the European benchmark, was at US$110.93 a barrel. OPEC is seen as sitting tight, with its dozen members appearing mostly satisfied by current market prices for crude, as Brent wins strong support from rising unrest in Libya, which has slashed the country’s output.
EAC works on currency
The leaders of five East African countries signed a protocol on Saturday laying the groundwork for a monetary union within 10 years that they expect will expand regional trade. Heads of state of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, which have already signed a common market and a single customs union, say the protocol will allow them to progressively converge their currencies and increase commerce. In the run-up to achieving a common currency, the East African Community (EAC) nations aim to harmonize monetary and fiscal policies and establish a common central bank. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda already present their budgets simultaneously every June. The plan by the region of about 135 million people, a new frontier for oil and gas exploration, is also meant to draw foreign investment and wean EAC countries off external aid.
Israeli stocks rise
Israel’s benchmark stock index rose for a third day as Fitch Ratings raised the country’s credit outlook and after shares in the US and Europe gained. The TA-25 Index climbed 0.6 percent to a record 1.366.04 at 10:29am in Tel Aviv. Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd headed for the highest close since August 2011 as third-quarter profit increased. Kuwait’s benchmark index declined 1.1 percent. Fitch, which affirmed Israel’s A rating, raised the country’s outlook to positive from stable on Friday, citing the shrinking deficit as the country cuts debt and boosts tax income. The shekel strengthened against the dollar every day of last week, bringing the gain for the year to 6 percent. The TA-25 gains follow “positive sentiment in the global markets and the rating outlook increase from Fitch,” Daniel Rapoport, head of equity and derivatives at Bank Leumi, said by telephone.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
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Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be