■ Travel Industry
Star Cruises, Valuair in deal
The world's third largest cruise operator, Malaysia's Star Cruises, said yesterday it had formed an alliance with Valuair, a low-cost airline based in Singapore. Under the deal, joint travel packages originating in Singapore will be on offer. Star Cruises Ltd will also become Valuair Ltd's largest shareholder, the companies said. Valuair currently operates flights to Bangkok, Hong Kong, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, and Perth in Western Australia. It was the first of three budget carriers to begin operations from Singapore this year. The others are Singapore Airlines Ltd-backed Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia, majority-owned by Aus-tralia's Qantas Airways Ltd.
China targets power plants
China is launching a crack-down on new power plants that are being built without official approval as it tries to enforce measures to restrain breakneck economic growth, a newspaper reported yesterday. China is suffering widespread power short-ages but the government worries that so many new, unauthorized power plants are being built that it will face a glut in capacity, the China Daily said. "The government will eradicate unapproved power plant construction projects by stopping bank loans to unapproved plants and by controlling land property usage and rail transport-ation," the newspaper said. Unauthorized power plants under construction had a total generating capacity equal to one-third of China's power supply at the end of last year, the daily said.
■ Auto Market
Honda expects higher sales
Honda is forecasting an 8 percent surge in global auto sales next year as demand for its cars grows in all key markets, the Japanese automaker's chief executive said yesterday. Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co expects its global sales to grow to a record 3.4 million vehicles next year. It sold 3.16 million vehicles this year, up 9 percent from the previous year. Honda plans to sell 5 percent more vehicles in North America next year at 1.45 million vehicles, with a new light truck model and the remodeled Civic com-pact, Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told reporters. It sold nearly 1.38 million vehicles there this year, up 2 percent from last year. Honda also is predicting sales to edge up 4 percent in Japan to 770,000 vehicles next year, after inching up 1 percent this year, Fukui said.
Slower growth forecast
Japan's economy will likely expand 1.6 percent in the fiscal year starting in April, slower than the expected pace for the current fiscal year because of dwindling capital expenditures and housing investment, the government said yesterday. But the Cabinet Office also said consumer prices will rise for the first time in seven years, signaling a possible end to deflation. Growth for Japan's real gross domestic product will be 2.1 percent this fiscal year, which ends March 31 next year, the Cabinet Office said. Concerns, however, have been rising that the recovery may be losing steam as an export boom fizzles. Earlier this month, the government revised its growth figures for the July-September quarter downward in annualized terms to 0.2 percent. The Cabinet Office said private housing investment will likely drop 0.6 percent next fiscal year. Capital expenditure growth is also likely to slow to 3.3 percent from the current 5.6 percent.