Seoul to hike power rates
South Korea will increase electricity prices for industrial users next month, while leaving average prices unchanged. The price for industrial use will rise 1 percent next Tuesday, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The price for night-time use between 11pm and 9am will rise by 17.5 percent, the ministry said. The government will cut the price for commercial use by 3.2 percent and for some service industries, including research and development centers and information and technology, by 13.8 percent, it said.
Gazprom in Tomskneft offer
Gazprom's oil unit Gazprom Neft is one of two firms to have made an offer to buy a 50 percent stake in Tomskneft from state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday. "We have received two offers to buy Tomskneft," one of which is from Gazprom Neft, said Anatoly Golomolzin, deputy head of the Russian financial regulator. He did not name the second bidder. Rosneft acquired Tomskneft in May for US$6.8 billion during the break-up of privately-owned former oil major Yukos. Critics said Yukos was bankrupted by President Vladimir Putin in order to bring Russia's vast natural resources back under state control.
POSCO invests in Malaysia
South Korean steel giant POSCO said yesterday it had bought a Malaysian steelmaker as part of efforts to establish a production network elsewhere in Asia. POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker, said it had signed a deal to acquire 60 percent of Malaysia's MEGS for US$15.6 million. The South Korean company said it would upgrade the Malaysian firm's facilities, now capable of producing 120,000 tonnes of electrogalvanized coils a year, to meet growing demand in Southeast Asia.
Room rates hit record high
Singapore received a record number of visitors last month but hotel rates were also at fresh highs, the city-state's tourism authorities said yesterday. The Singapore Tourism Board said 837,000 visitors arrived in November, the largest number ever for that month. Average room rates for hotels also set a new milestone of S$226 (US$156) a night, the highest ever in any month and up almost 30 percent over last year, the board said. The city-state's hotels earned record room revenues of S$175.4 million, an increase of almost 24 percent from last year, it said. Visitor arrivals were 4.6 percent higher than a year earlier, fuelled by strong arrivals from China, India and Australia, the board said.
US sales growth slows
US retailers' sales rose 3.6 percent in holiday shopping, at the lower end of expectations, helped by a late-season spending surge on some items, data released on Tuesday by SpendingPulse showed. The figures, from the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, offer a glimpse at the strength of this year's holiday shopping season, which was expected to grow at the slowest rate in five years. "It's more at the lower end of the expected range but more or less in line with the reduced expectations coming into the holiday season," said Michael McNamara, vice president of Research and Analysis for MasterCard Advisors.
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo