■ Auto industry
Nissan to consolidate
Nissan Motor said yesterday it will spend ¥5.1 billion (US$45 million) to expand its engineering center in Zama City south of Tokyo to consolidate its global production trial activities. Construction of the 30,000m2 facility near the capital will begin next month with operations expected to start in March 2007, the second ranked Japanese auto firm said in a statement. The expansion, which will create 350 new jobs, will allow Nissan to consolidate its global production engineering functions in one place with a total workforce at the site of 1,280. Currently, Nissan's assembly plants around the world conduct their own trial production and quality analysis.
China to keep developing
China's developing economy is expected to grow 9.2 percent this year and 8.7 percent in the first half next year, according to forecasts made by central bank researchers seen yesterday. The estimates were made in a report by researchers at the People's Bank of China, the official Shanghai Securities News said. The forecasts compare with a 9.5 percent growth rate last year and 9.5 percent in the first half of this year. The newspaper said the researchers also see the consumer price index (CPI), a broad measure of inflation, rising two percent this year and 2.1 percent in the first half of 2006. That compares with a 3.9 percent increase in inflation last year and 3.6 percent in the first half of this year. "We must closely watch the impact of surging oil prices on the international market but also prevent a further fall in overall prices in the country," the research report said, referring to the threat of deflation.
HP to stay in France
Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) will continue operations in France after the company cuts jobs, following efforts by politicians in the country to block the company's plan to shed workers, French daily Le Figaro said. HP is in France for "strategic reasons" and has no plans to shut its sites in the country, Patrick Starck, head of the company's French operations, said in an interview with the newspaper. Last Wednesday European regulators rebuffed an appeal by French President Jacques Chirac to block Hewlett-Packard's plan. Labor Minister Gerard Larcher, who last week met with HP France's labor-union representatives, was scheduled to meet yesterday with Francesco Serafini, head of Europe for Hewlett-Packard. HP announced on Sept. 12 that it planned to cut 1,240 jobs in France as part of a worldwide plan to shed 10 percent of its workforce.
Banks may be named
The People's Bank of China (中國人民銀行) may name banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc and Bank of China (中國銀行) as market makers in the yuan, a step toward a freely traded currency, bankers and traders familiar with the situation said. Market makers may be able to quote and trade the yuan against the dollar, euro and yen by year-end, ending the central bank's monopoly on setting exchange rates, said the people, who declined to be named. Prices for the dollar will still have to be within the 0.3 percent daily trading range set by the central bank on July 21, when it allowed the yuan to appreciate for the first time in a decade, they said.