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Wed, Dec 31, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■RETAIL

Sales fall in November

Finnish retail sales fell last month from the year earlier for the first time in eight months as the economy headed toward a recession. The value of retail sales at market prices dropped an annual 0.5 percent, compared with growth of 4.7 percent the month before and 8 percent last November, Helsinki-based Statistics Finland said on its Web site yesterday, citing preliminary figures. Weaker economic growth and the prospect of increases in the jobless rate are pushing people to reduce spending. The economy expanded 0.1 in the third quarter, the slowest rate in three and a half years, Statistics Finland said on Dec. 8.

■VENEZUELA

Economy grows 4.9 percent

Venezuela says its economy grew 4.9 percent this year — the slowest expansion since 2003. The South American country has seen strong economic growth in the past few years thanks in large part to high oil prices that have brought in booming revenues. The growth figures for this year announced on Monday by the Central Bank are down from 8.4 percent last year as the financial crisis hit crude prices, which make up 94 percent of exports. The government had initially projected 6 percent growth for this year. Venezuela’s oil sector grew by 3 percent — down from 6 percent last year — while the non-oil economy expanded by 5.3 percent.

■AVIATION

Budget carrier plan scrapped

Singapore’s Tiger Airways said yesterday a plan to establish a budget carrier with South Korea’s Incheon city has been scrapped due to the worsening global economic situation. Regulatory problems in South Korea also contributed to the decision to abandon the project for a new low-fare airline operating from Incheon’s international airport, Singapore-based Tiger said in a statement. “The recent global economic situation and continued regulatory uncertainty in [South] Korea have meant that both parties have concluded that the climate is not conducive to the successful launch of a new airline at this time,” the statement said.

■MERGERS

Serco acquires US-based SI

Serco Group Plc, the UK services company that operates London’s Docklands Light Railway, said it completed the acquisition of US technology provider SI International Inc after receiving regulatory approval. Serco acquired Reston, Virginia-based SI International for a total consideration of US$524 million, including net debt, in its biggest-ever purchase. The acquisition will give Serco a supplier of services to US government departments, including the Department of Defense. The deal provides Serco with North America revenue of US$1.3 billion, the Hook, UK-based company said late yesterday in a PRNewswire statement.

■OIL

Crude dips below US$40

Oil prices hovered above US$40 a barrel yesterday in Asia on investor concerns the conflict between Israel and Hamas could further heighten tensions in the oil-rich Middle East. Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose US$0.22 to US$40.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. The contract overnight rose US$2.31 to settle at US$40.02. Crude prices have rallied 14 percent since Friday on concerns that the conflict could heighten tensions between Middle East oil power Iran and Israel and the US, said Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director for market maker Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore.

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