US probes Sony's SRAM biz
Sony Corp said yesterday that the US Department of Justice is probing its electronics unit. The firm received a subpoena from the Justice Department's antitrust division seeking information about its static random access memory (SRAM) business, Sony spokesman Atsuo Omagari said. Sony said it intends to cooperate with the investigation, which it described as an industrywide probe without elaborating. Omagari declined to provide other details about the probe. Last year, Sony produced US$27.7 million worth of SRAM. The product is made by outside manufacturers for Sony, which in turn sells the chips to other electronics makers, Omagari said.
Toshiba doubles net profit
Toshiba Corp yesterday said that it more than doubled its net profit in the fiscal first-half, thanks to strong sales of digital products, home appliances and flat-panel displays. The company, which did not break down earnings by the quarter, said it earned ¥39 billion (US$337.4 million) in the six months through September, up from ¥14.6 billion during the same period last year. The profit jump came on a 9 percent increase in first-half sales to ¥3.162 trillion, from ¥2.9 trillion the previous year, the company said. Toshiba also raised its fiscal-year profit forecast to ¥110 billion.
Samsung invests US$15m
Samsung Corp said it agreed to invest US$15 million in a subsidiary of General Electric Co to expand into tracking and protecting containers in Asia. Samsung will buy 10 percent of CommerceGuard to help operate the business in 12 Asian countries including South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, the Seoul-based unit of the Samsung Group said in a statement yesterday. Increased scrutiny by the US and other countries will help the container security industry grow to a US$3 billion market by 2010, Samsung said.
Duties on 58 items cut
China is introducing temporary tariffs on 110 energy-consuming export goods in a move to curb its soaring trade surplus and preserve energy, state media said yesterday. As part of the same policy, which takes effect today, import duties on 58 imported products will be cut, the China Daily reported, citing the finance ministry. "Clearly, this move shows that the Chinese authorities now attach more importance to external trade balance and domestic industrial restructuring than merely double-digit trade growth," the paper's editorial commented. The hike of export taxes and cut in import duties will "put a drag on the country's soaring trade surplus," it added.
Economic data worrying
Japan got a double dose of gloomy news yesterday with the unemployment rate rising to 4.2 percent in September from 4.1 percent in August and consumer spending falling sharply. The figures added to concerns that the world's second-largest economy is losing steam in tandem with the US'. Worries were mitigated, however, by a 50,000 decline in the jobless total from a year earlier to 2.8 million, down for the 10th consecutive month. The Bank of Japan reassured investors that a sustained economic recovery was set to continue. It announced as expected yesterday that it had agreed to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.25 percent.