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Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■SINGAPORE

Exports drop 24 percent

Singapore’s key exports fell 24 percent last month from a year ago as shipments to the US and other main markets plunged amid the worldwide economic slump, the government said yesterday. It was the 10th straight month of decline in non-oil domestic exports, following the record 35 percent drop in January. Shipments to the city-state’s top 10 markets, except China, were down, monthly data released by the International Enterprise Singapore trade promotion body showed. Demand from the recession-hit US shrank the most as shipments fell 44.4 percent to S$1.03 billion (US$673 million), following a 50 percent decline in January.

■PETROLEUM

ExxonMobil opens China hub

A subsidiary of global oil giant ExxonMobil Corp yesterday announced plans to build a technology center in China’s economic hub of Shanghai. Exxonmobil Chemical’s hub, which will have an initial investment of US$70 million and is expected to open next year, will provide technical advice and laboratory support to customers in Asia, the company said. ExxonMobil is expanding in China with a recent joint venture operating 750 service stations and another building and operating a petrochemical refinery in Fujian.

■ALUMINUM

Alcoa to slash dividend

Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc said on Monday it planned to slash its quarterly dividend by 82 percent and sell US$1.1 billion in shares to bulk up its cash cushion amid the recession. The Pittsburgh-based company also said it planned to cut costs by more than US$2.4 billion annually by next year. Alcoa said its actions would reduce capital spending by an additional US$1 billion next year. The announcement, made after the market closed on Monday, follows news in January that Alcoa plans to lay off about 13 percent of its global work force by the end of 2009, further cut production and spending, and sell four of its subsidiaries.

■MICROCHIPS

AMD may lose chip license

Intel warned rival chipmaker AMD on Monday that its license to make personal-computer chips could be revoked because it spun out its manufacturing unit into a separate company. Intel first introduced its PC-compatible chips, which are based on the ubiquitous x86 architecture, in 1978 and later licensed to other companies. AMD manufactures the chips under a 2001 patent cross-licensing agreement, and AMD transferred the right to make x86 chips to its manufacturing spinoff GlobalFoundries, which Intel alleges violates terms of the original agreement. In a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, AMD rejected Intel’s claims.

■AUSTRALIA

Interest rates unchanged

Australia’s central bank said yesterday it unexpectedly left interest rates unchanged this month to “leave adequate flexibility” in the future, prompting economists to predict more rate cuts. The Reserve Bank of Australia board released minutes of its monthly meeting, where it left rates at a 45-year-low of 3.25 percent to end a sequence of seven straight cuts since last September. “Members believed this would leave adequate flexibility for policy at future meetings,” the minutes said. The bank has lowered rates from 7.25 percent since September and economists said they were unlikely to remain on hold for long after recent figures showing unemployment at a four-year high of 5.2 percent last month.

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