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Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■COMPUTERS

Big Blue’s results shine

Technology colossus IBM reported second quarter income of US$2.77 billion on Thursday, up 22 percent on the same quarter last year on strong global growth in sales of services, hardware and software. Revenue rose 13 percent to US$26.8 billion, with 7 percent of that growth stemming from currency gains caused by the record weakness of the US dollar. “IBM had an outstanding quarter and a strong first half for 2008. These results demonstrate that IBM has the ability to thrive in both emerging and established markets,” said Samuel Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.

■OIL

Crude prices inch higher

Oil prices rose US$2 to stand above U$131 a barrel yesterday, after a 10 percent decline in the past three trading sessions lured buyers. Easing tensions between Iran and the West and worries that high prices and a weaker US economy will undermine demand have sent US crude down US$15 in just three days, putting it on track for its biggest weekly fall since the contract started trading in New York in 1983. US light crude rose US$2.12 to US$131.41 a barrel by 8:45am GMT, still way off its June 11 record high of US$147.27, as Wednesday’s report of an unexpected build in US crude oil stocks continued to weigh on the price. London Brent crude gained US$2.18 to US$133.25 a barrel.

■BANKING

UBS overhauls US operation

UBS AG overhauled its offshore private banking business for US residents on Thursday in the face of accusations by congressional investigators that the Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes. In a dramatic hearing on Capitol Hill before a Senate subcommittee, a senior UBS executive apologized and announced the bank would cease offering cross-border private banking through its unregulated units to US-domiciled customers. Mark Branson, chief financial officer for UBS Global Wealth Management and Business Banking, said the bank’s 80,000 employees were alarmed by reports of misconduct.

■OIL

Sinopec issues warning

Chinese oil giant Sinopec, formally known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, says its first-half profit will fall more than 50 percent from the same period last year because of government controls that limit its ability to pass on record-high crude costs to consumers. A Sinopec statement, dated on Thursday, gave no estimate of first-half earnings. But the company, Asia’s biggest refiner by volume, reported profits of 36.2 billion yuan (US$5.3 billion) in the year-earlier period. “The net profit for the first half of 2008 will decrease by more than 50 percent compared to the same period of last year,” Beijing-based Sinopec said. It blamed China’s “strict control over refined oil prices.”

■ELECTRONICS

Wii on top in the US

Nintendo said on Thursday that its globally popular Wii has become the top-selling video game console in the US, a crown coveted by rivals Microsoft and Sony. Market-tracking firm NPD Group reported that 666,000 Wii consoles were sold in the US last month, raising the total sales count in the country to nearly 10.9 million units. The Japanese video game giant scored another victory with its DS portable devices, selling more than 783,000 in the US last month, to raise total sales there to 20.8 million units.

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