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Wed, Jul 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Economy
Fitch upgrades HK rating

Fitch Ratings said yesterday it had upgraded its outlook on Hong Kong's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to "positive" from "stable." The ratings agency said the revision mainly reflects the territory's strong external financial position and the continued reform of its public finances. Fitch expects the Hong Kong economy to grow 6.3 percent this year and 4 percent to 5 percent in the medium term, against the government's forecast of 4 percent to 5 percent for this year and 4 percent per annum from next year to 2010.

■ Automobilies

Lower tax aids Nissan profit

Nissan Motor Co said yesterday that its net profit in the first quarter rose 4.2 percent from the same period a year earlier to ¥110.2 billion (US$945 million) as lower taxes made up for a sales slump. However, its operating profit in the April-to-June quarter fell 25.7 percent year-on-year. Operating profit, which measures earnings before the deduction of interest payments and income taxes, declined to ¥153.3 billion. Japan's second automobile manufacturer sold 826,000 vehicles in the three-month period, down 6 percent, on a lack of new models, but group sales rose 3.1 percent to ¥2.21 trillion, it said.

■ Telecoms

PCCW trading suspended

Shares of Hong Kong phone operator PCCW Ltd (電訊盈科) were suspended from trading yesterday following a news report saying the company would reject offers by foreign investors for its core telecommunications and media assets. Citing people familiar with the situation, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday that PCCW's board of directors would reject separate bids for its assets from Australia's Macquarie Bank Ltd and US investment firm Texas Pacific Group and its Asia-focused unit Newbridge. The report did not name its sources. The proposed asset sale had faced fierce opposition from Chinese state-owned phone operator China Network Communications Group, which owns 20 percent of PCCW. China Netcom suggested it didn't want to see telecom infrastructure on Chinese soil falling into foreign hands.

■ Oil

BP's Q2 profits up 23%

Despite a drop in output, British energy giant BP announced yesterday a 22.8 percent increase in second-quarter earnings on the back of soaring crude oil prices. Net profit, excluding gains in the value of its crude oil inventories, rose to US$6.12 billion in the three months to June, compared with US$4.98 billion in the same period last year, BP said in a results statement.

■ Gas

Watchdog raids 20 firms

Japan's anti-monopoly watchdog raided about 20 gas companies yesterday over suspected bid-rigging for natural gas station projects subsidized by the government, Fair Trade Commission spokesman Akinori Yamada said. The gas companies are suspected of having colluded on bids for projects to build gas stations for natural gas-powered vehicles around Japan, and financed by the government, Yamada said. The projects, worth between ¥3 billion (US$235.64 million) and ¥4 billion a year, are ordered by gas suppliers, gas station operators and local governments, Yamada said.

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