Inflation at two-year low
Inflation slowed to a two-year low last month as gains in costs of housing and transportation eased. The consumer price index rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier, after climbing 4 percent in October, the Department of Statistics said yesterday. Consumer prices rose 0.1 percent last month from October, the report showed. Last month’s core inflation rate was 2 percent. The Monetary Authority of Singapore predicts inflation will average more than 4.5 percent this year and will be in a 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent range next year. “Given continued weakness in the global economy, imported inflation will be generally benign,” the Trade Ministry and the central bank said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the persistent tightness in the labor market will support wage increases in 2013,” they said.
Central bank cuts rates
The central bank cut its key interest rates yesterday, the sixth time this year, in an attempt to boost an economy growing at the weakest pace in more than a decade. The State Bank of Vietnam cut the refinancing rate — charged on loans to commercial banks — to 9 percent from 10 percent. The discount rate was lowered to 7 percent from 8 percent. The country expects economic growth of just 5.2 percent for this year — the slowest rate in 13 years. At the same time inflation hit a six-month high of 7.08 percent last month year-on-year.
Firm plans oil exploration
Petroceltic International PLC, an oil and gas company with operations in Egypt and eastern Europe, plans to explore for oil in the country. The company has made an application in the country for onshore and offshore blocks with Hellenic Petroleum SA and Edison SpA, Brian O’Cathain, chief executive officer of Petroceltic, said in a telephone interview from Dublin on Friday. “We made the application as a consortium,” Vasilis Tsaitas, an Athens-based spokesman for Hellenic, said by phone. Each partner has equal shares, he said, adding the government is reviewing the bids. The onshore block is in Ipiros in the northwest of the mainland and the offshore field will be in Patraikos in the west, Tsaitas said. If the bid is successful, Hellenic will become the operator, he said.
President urges investment
President Dilma Rousseff urged businesses on Sunday to expand their investments as the nation cuts energy costs in a bid to curb poverty and improve flagging industrial competitiveness. “Our recipe for a stronger Brazil is to invest in overcoming poverty, guaranteeing home ownership, expanding employment, increasing education opportunities and improving our infrastructure and the competitiveness of our companies,” Rousseff said in a Christmas broadcast. Earlier this month, the government said electricity rates would be slashed 16.7 percent next year, in line with a long-standing demand by domestic industrialists who complain that the country’s energy costs are among the highest in the world.
ITV to buy Gurney stake
Britain’s ITV PLC said it will buy a 61.5 percent stake in US-based Gurney Productions, which makes reality programs, for US$40 million to boost its production business in the US. Britain’s largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster would have the option to buy the remaining 38.5 percent stake in Gurney three years after the deal through the fifth year.