■ InflationChina's key index slows
Growth in China's main indicator for inflation slowed to 4.3 percent year-on-year last month, significantly lower than the 5.2 percent year-on-year increase the month before, the government reported yesterday. The slowing in the consumer price index defied a nearly nine-year high in the producer price index, which jumped 8.4 percent year-on-year last month. The producer price index, which measures the cost of goods used in production, is considered a leading indicator of future trends for consumer prices. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that the consumer price index rose 4.1 percent over a year earlier in the January-October period. Officials have forecast that the index will rise 3 percent year-on-year for all of 2004.
■ Video games
Nintendo DS big in Japan
Japanese orders are coming in strong for Nintendo Co's new portable video game machine, with the company reporting more than 2 million local orders in just a week, the company said yesterday. Nintendo DS, which stands for "dual screen," is set to go on sale on Nov. 21 in the US and Dec. 2 in Japan. Kyoto-based Nintendo, which makes Super Mario and Pokemon games, had initially expected Japanese orders to run at about 1 million. The company reported more than 2 million orders since it began accepting them last week. Nintendo is setting up its third plant in China to boost production, and is also planning to ship 1 million Nintendo DS machines to North America this year. The company said it expects to ship 4 million Nintendo DS machines by the end of the fiscal year on March 31 next year.
■ Price fixing
Micron strikes deal with US
Micron Technology Inc, the world's second-largest maker of computer-memory chips, struck a deal with the US Department of Justice to shield it from sanctions after a probe found that some employees engaged in price fixing. The probe found collusion by Micron and rival chipmakers of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), a market forecast to grow 49 percent to US$26 billion this year, Boise, Idaho-based Micron said in an e-mailed statement. Micron said it won't be subject to criminal sanctions or fines under the deal. The US in 2002 began investiga-ting whether Micron conspired to fix prices with Infineon Technologies AG and other makers of the chips that provide the main memory in personal computers, in a probe Gartner Inc estimates may cost the industry US$2.2 billion in fines. Munich-based Infineon set aside 212 million euros (US$274 million) to cover the cost of settling with the Justice Department. Infineon said it will pay a US$160 million fine for its part in the conspiracy.
■ Video rentals
Blockbuster bids for rival
Blockbuster, the leading US video rental chain, made a bid on Thursday to swallow rival Hollywood Entertain-ment, spotlighting the sector facing tough times due to emerging technology. The company just spun off by Viacom unveiled an offer to acquire Hollywood Entertainment for US$1 billion, including debt. Blockbuster said it would offer US$11.50 a share for Hollywood Entertainment, a 17 percent premium over Hollywood's closing price on Wednesday. The video rental business has lost much of its luster in recent years. Forrester, a research company, has essentially predicted that the industry could be vulnerable to video-on-demand services.