CPI drops 0.3 percent
South Korea's consumer prices fell for a third consecutive month last month, the longest slide since the economy emerged from recession four years ago, reinforcing expectations the central bank will cut interest rates next month. The CPI slid a larger-than-expected 0.3 percent, after falling 0.2 percent in May, the government said in Seoul. Prices hadn't fallen for three straight months since 1999, when the economy was recovering from a collapse of the national currency two years earlier.
Lawmakers' salaries falling
Lawmakers are no exception -- Japan's economic slump has sent the average income of Diet members down 6.2 percent to a record low of Japanese Yen 26.93 million (US$225,000) last year, news reports said yesterday. Last year's average income, breaking the previous record low of ?27.54 million set in 2000, was the smallest since 1993, when the Diet began releasing wage data on lawmakers, Kyodo News and the Asahi newspaper said. The decline was mainly due to a 10 percent cut in state payments to lawmakers and a drop in income generated from their own businesses amid the economic downturn, Kyodo said.
■ Mobile phones
Vietnam to get network
Vietnam is set to launch a new mobile phone network this week using US-developed technology for the first time, which is expected to cut costs nationwide, an executive said yesterday. The service will begin today, initially covering 12 cities and provinces, said Nguyen Hoang Long, marketing manager of S-Fone, a business venture between government-led Saigon Postel Co. and South Korea's SLD Telecom consortium. Long said the company expects to expand its coverage to all 61 cities and provinces by next year.
Digital shoplifting targeted
Japanese publishers said Monday they will launch a campaign this week to stop digital shoplifters -- people who visit bookstores to photograph magazine pages with their cellphones rather than make a purchase. Digital shoplifting is becoming a big problem as camera-equipped mobile handsets are spreading fast and their quality is improving greatly, said Kenji Takahashi, an official at the Japan Magazine Publishers Association. Starting today, bookstores across the nation will put up posters urging magazine readers to "refrain from recording information with camera-mounted cellphones and other devices."
Mergers fall in Asia-Pacific
The Asia-Pacific region posted the sharpest decline in corporate mergers and acquisitions worldwide in the six months to last month because of the impact of SARS and the US-led war against Iraq, a financial company said. In terms of volume, company buyouts tumbled 49 percent on the year in the Asia-Pacific, compared with 33 percent in Western Europe and 28 percent in the US, KPMG Finance Corp said. "The compound effects of continuing economic uncertainty, war with Iraq and the outbreak of the SARS virus so far this year have taken their toll on an already battered M-and-A market, particularly in the Asia-Pacific," said Tham Sai Choy, the head of KPMG Corporate Finance in Singapore.