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Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Economies

Tankan hits 13yr high

A Japanese central bank survey showed yesterday that Japanese manufac-turers' economic sentiment has reached a high not seen in 13 years. According to the April-June "Tankan" survey by the Bank of Japan, the diffusion index of business sentiment among big manu-facturers stood at positive 22 in the last month's sur-vey, the highest figure since 1991. Confidence in the economy among major Japanese manufacturers picked up last month over March for the fifth-straight improvement. The figure was 12 in the March survey. A positive number means optimists outnumber pessi-mists. The "Tankan" survey strongly influences the bank's monetary policy. The non-manufacturers index also improved to positive nine from five in the March survey. Large manufacturers said they planned to raise capital spending in the current fiscal year to next March by 20.4 percent from the previous fiscal year.

■ Telecoms

New mobile for Motorola

Motorola Inc, the world's second-largest mobile-telephone maker, will start selling a phone with a keyboard hidden inside and a built-in camera as it tries to win sales in North America. The A630 phone, scheduled for release in September, will be Moto-rola's 36th new handset this year, vice president Jason Few said in an interview. It has a flip-top color screen that covers a keyboard for sending e-mails and text messages and playing video games. Illinois-based Motorola is adding stylish new phones with more features in a bid to steal sales from market leader Nokia Oyj.

■ Aviation

United hikes fares to US

United Airlines has raised fares by 5 percent on most flights to international destinations from the US, citing rising fuel costs as the reason. The increase announced on Wednesday is the latest of numerous attempts by US carriers this year to try to have passen-gers share the burden of soaring jet-fuel prices. Last month, United rescinded a US$10-per-round-trip fuel surcharge applied to most North American fares after only a day when only American Airlines went along. There was no word whether United's rivals were matching this move. Delta Air Lines was

"considering a similar move" but was still review-ing it, spokeswoman Peggy Estes said. Mary Stanik, a Northwest Airlines spokes-woman, said they were studying it. "Escalating fuel prices are a growing con-cern throughout the airline industry," United executive vice president John Tague said. "We must take the necessary steps to manage our exposure to this unprecedented rise in expense."

■ Automobiles

Pioneer sets purchase date

Pioneer Corp, Japan's largest maker of car-navigation systems, signed an agreement to buy NEC Corp's plasma-display panel business on Sept. 30 for ?40 billion (US$370 million). The companies made the original agreement in February and set the date yesterday. They announced the signing in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Tokyo-based Pioneer is aiming to be the biggest maker of plasma displays with annual production of 1 million units by March 2006. It has said that after it finishes a production line in Yamanashi prefecture and buys NEC's business, total capacity will grow to 1.1 million units. Pioneer shares rose 0.4 percent in Tokyo Stock Exchange trading.

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