■ Stock exchangesTrading gets SARS holiday
The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges and securities regulators announced yesterday they would close until May 12 over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) concerns. The scheduled three-day Labor Day holiday starting May 1 will be extended through to May 9 to check the further spread of SARS, according to a statement by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Trading will resume on May 12. While the extension of the holiday break could dampen investor confidence, the negative impact on share prices was expected to be limited, analysts said.
Branson bids on Concorde
Airbus SAS, the world's number 2 aircraft maker responsible for setting maintenance standards for the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde airliner, dismissed proposals by UK businessman Sir Richard Branson to keep it flying, the Financial Times reported. Branson, who owns Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, the UK's second largest airline, yesterday repeated his offer to buy British Airways Plc's seven Concordes for a symbolic £1 (US$1.59), the price originally paid by British Airways, the FT said. British Airways plans to retire its fleet in October. Air France, which has five of the 100-seat delta-winged jets, will stop using the aircraft at the end of May.
Hutchison rethinks buy
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the telephone company owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing, may abandon a plan to buy control of Global Crossing Ltd after the US extended a national security review of the proposed US$250 million purchase, analysts familiar with the matter said. The Hong Kong-based company's departure would leave Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte as the sole acquirer of the bankrupt fiber-optic network operator. US government officials informed the companies Monday they will take an additional 45 days to determine whether the sale threatens US national security.
■ Economic outlook
IMF head stays cautious
The global economy faces risks even after the Iraq war, IMF managing director Horst Koehler warned Tuesday. "The end of the war has lifted some of this uncertainty and some of the risks -- such as a massive rise oil prices -- are now unlikely to materialize," the IMF boss said. The IMF's twice-yearly World Economic Outlook this month predicted a pick-up in global growth from 3.0 percent last year to 3.2 percent in 2003, with activity ramping up in the second half of the year.
Japan cushions yen
Japan's central bank unexpectedly decided to inject more cash into the world's No. 2 economy amid concern that plunging share prices could damage the financial system. The bank raised its target for reserves it makes available to lenders to between ¥22 trillion (US$184 billion) and ¥27 trillion from a maximum of ¥22 trillion. The bank kept monthly government bond purchases unchanged at ¥1.2 trillion.. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped to a 20-year low this week, adding to pressure on newly appointed central bank Governor Toshihiko Fukui to keep the economy from falling into a fourth recession since 1990.