■ LCD televisions
Sales could beat forecasts
Global shipments of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) televisions this year will rise 60 percent, more than expected, as falling prices spur demand, technology industry researcher ISuppli Corp said. Shipments will rise to 31.4 million units this year from 19.6 million last year, ISuppli said in a statement. In September, the El Segundo, California-based researcher projected global shipments would total 24.6 million units this year and 17.1 million units last year. Sharp Corp and Royal Philips Electronics NV, the world's two largest LCD TV set makers, increased market share during the third quarter, ISuppli said. Sony Corp leapfrogged Samsung Electronics Co, LG Electronics Inc and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co to become the third-largest producer during the quarter, according to ISuppli.
Canon to build lens plant
Canon Inc, which is expecting a sixth year of record profits, will spend about ?14 billion (US$121 million) building a lens factory to meet rising demand for digital cameras that have interchangeable lenses. The plant will be built in Japan's Oita Prefecture where the company already has a factory that makes digital and video cameras, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. Canon will hire about 600 workers and aims to begin production in May next year, it said. Canon currently makes lenses elsewhere in Japan and in Taiwan.
Asian profits set to soar
Gross revenue from legal casino gambling in Asia will be an estimated US$13 billion this year, a 20 percent increase over last year, according to a research report. The report by Globalysis, a Las Vegas-based firm that tracks Asia's casino gaming markets, attributed the increase largely to new tourist facilities in Macau and "associated increased activity" at the Chinese enclave's renowned gaming centers. It said the biggest jump in revenue -- an estimated US$4 billion -- would come in the fourth quarter of this year, mostly because of the planned opening of the Wynn Macau casino in September. Globalysis said it expected other Asian casino markets such as Australia and South Korea to do well. The Globalysis report said there has been significant business development in Singapore, but it did not expect the Singapore casino market to contribute to Asian gross gaming revenue until about 2011.
S&P slashes Ford rating
Ratings agency Standard and Poor's on Thursday cut struggling automaker Ford Motor Co's credit rating deeper into junk status. "The downgrade reflects our increased skepticism about Ford's ability to turn around the performance of its North American automotive operations -- a process that will require, at best, a number of years," the agency said in a report. The rating downgrade came a day after Ford announced a 9 percent drop in sales last month and a 5 percent drop in overall sales for last year. The agency warned that Ford's North American unit could post as much as a US$2 billion pre-tax loss last year, although the company as a whole is expected to end the year with a profit thanks to earnings from its financial unit. Ford's North American unit posted a US$1.4 billion loss in the first nine months of last year.