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Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ TRADE

Brazil reports the US

Brazil will ask the WTO to formally investigate US farm subsidy programs, which it says includes payments for ethanol production, a senior Brazilian official said on Tuesday. The South American country, which has already won a series of WTO rulings over US cotton subsidies, will make its request for an investigative panel soon, said Roberto Azevedo, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry's trade chief. The dispute could become a major case for the global commerce body, which has largely steered clear of energy issues in its 12-year history.

■ SOFTWARE

Microsoft patches released

Microsoft Corp released four software patches on Tuesday to fix security flaws, including one that could allow hackers to take over computers running the company's instant messaging programs. Only one of the flaws carried the company's most severe "critical" rating, and it only applies to the Windows 2000 operating system. To be affected, users would have to visit a Web site and install a program that could then run malicious code on their computers, said Mark Griesi, a security program manager at the Redmond-based software maker.

■ TRADE

EU warns China over goods

The EU will ban imports of some types of Chinese consumer goods unless the country responds to EU concerns about health and safety standards, the bloc's consumer protection chief said. "If China fails to respond positively or sufficiently to our request by October, we will move to the next step, which is a ban of certain goods such as toys," Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva told European parliamentarians. Kuneva has requested a report from the Chinese authorities over EU concerns regarding an influx of unsafe products from China such as toys, toothpaste and certain foods.

■ FINANCE

Wellington tightens rules

New Zealand is introducing tougher regulations for non-bank financial institutions after a string of failures of finance companies, the government said yesterday. Finance Minister Michael Cullen warned the new laws would not be a quick-fix for the finance industry, which has been hit by a run on funds mirroring credit fears in the US and elsewhere. New laws will require all financial institutions taking deposits to be registered with the central Reserve Bank of New Zealand and to comply with minimum prudential requirements. Among the requirements, non-bank institutions will have to get a credit rating from an approved agency, follow a minimum capital to debt ratio and restrict lending to related parties.

■ ECONOMY

US' CFOs bearish: poll

Confidence in the US economy has plunged sharply in recent weeks among hundreds of chief financial officers (CFO) working for US firms, a survey released on Tuesday showed. The survey of 580 US CFOs, conducted by Duke University and CFO magazine, found confidence had dropped to its lowest point since the survey began six years ago. Credit market turbulence, weak consumer demand and high labor costs were cited as the top concerns. The poll found that 61.7 percent of the CFOs were more pessimistic, while 13.6 percent were more optimistic about US economic prospects during the third quarter compared with the prior quarter.

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