Oil prices close mixed
Oil prices were mixed in volatile Asian trade yesterday after Iran freed 15 captured British sailors on Wednesday, easing fears a diplomatic row could escalate and disrupt crude supplies, dealers said. This news, however, was offset by disappointing energy inventory data from the US, the world's biggest energy consumer, they added. At 3pm, New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month, was down US$0.01 to US$64.37 a barrel from US$64.38 in late US trades. The weekly report by the US Department of Energy showed gasoline reserves fell by 5 million barrels to 205.2 million barrels last week, against a forecast drawdown of 300,000 barrels.
■ LCD TV
Matsushita sets up KL plant
Japan's Matsushita Industrial Co, which makes Panasonic brand products, has begun making liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TVs in Malaysia to meet growing worldwide demand, officials said yesterday. It will be the group's first facility in Asia to make LCD sets, officials said. Initial production is aimed at 30,000 units for the domestic market and 20,000 units for export to Singapore this year. The company would also supply parts for assembly plants in other countries.
Microsoft told to share info
The European Commission will force Microsoft Corp to hand over what the US software giant claims is sensitive and valuable technical information about its Windows operating system for almost no compensation, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing a confidential document. Microsoft is required to license the technical information to competing groups under the terms of the commission's antitrust ruling issued three years ago, the FT said. The commission last month accused Microsoft of demanding excessive royalties from licenses.
Nintendo raises estimates
Nintendo Co said yesterday that group sales for the business year that ended in March would likely reach ¥966 billion (US$8.14 billion) thanks to the popularity of its Nintendo DS handheld game console. The Kyoto-based game maker, which earlier projected group sales of ¥900 billion, said in a statement that it also expected profit to exceed its forecast. The company also said it now expects a foreign exchange profit of about ¥20 billion, as opposed to its forecast of a loss of ¥10 billion.
Vodafone clarifies purchase
British telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc, the world's largest mobile phone company by sales, said yesterday it was buying only 52 percent of Indian mobile operator Hutchison Essar but would have an "economic interest" in 67 percent as it insisted that the US$11.1 billion deal meet Indian foreign investment rules. "We have been maintaining that we have effective 52 percent control," said Vodafone spokesman V.K. Cherian, adding that the company had options to purchase the remaining 15 percent. "We are absolutely confident that the deal will receive approval," Cherian said. His statement came as the law ministry was reported to have advised further scrutiny of the deal to see whether the shareholding structure meets Indian regulations allowing foreign direct investment of up to 74 percent in a domestic telecom firm.