Philips reports profit drop
Dutch electronics giant Philips yesterday reported a net profit of 45 million euros (US$62.6 million) in the second quarter, a drop of 94 percent compared with the same period last year. The results were higher than expected by analysts, who had predicted a net loss of 125 million euros after a net profit of 732 million euros in the second quarter of last year. Philips turnover stood at 5.23 billion euros in the second quarter, down 19 percent from 6.46 billion euros in the same period last year, because of “continuing weakness in consumer and professional markets,” the group said.
US unconcerned about dollar
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday he was not concerned that the US dollar is weakening as a reserve currency, despite recent criticism from China, Russia and France. “A strong dollar is in the interest of the United States,” Geithner said in an interview on CNN, “and our commitment to the world, and of course, the American people, is to make sure we’ll put in place the policies that can sustain confidence in this economy and this financial system.” Geithner’s comments come as France joined a chorus of other countries critical of the dollar’s dominance over other currencies, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy saying on Thursday that a “multipolar world must be a multicurrency world.” Sarkozy is the first European leader to join with China and Russia, who have called for a new international reserve currency similar to the Special Drawing Rights — an artificial currency used by the IMF.
S Korea posts record surplus
South Korea posted a record trade surplus last month as the value of imports fell more than exports amid the global recession, government figures showed yesterday. The Korea Customs Service said the surplus was US$7.27 billion last month, the highest since data began to be compiled in 1952. It was the fifth consecutive month of surpluses since February, with the cumulative surplus for the first half standing at US$28 billion. Exports fell 12.4 percent last month from a year earlier to US$32.63 billion, while imports dropped 32.9 percent over the same period to US$25.36 billion.
Honda to expand hybrids
Honda Motor Co, Japan’s second-biggest carmaker, plans to expand the number of hybrid vehicles it offers domestically to compete with Toyota Motor Corp’s best-selling Prius. The carmaker will bring out a hybrid version of the Fit car next year and the hybrid CR-Z sports coupe in February, chief executive officer Takanobu Ito, told reporters yesterday in Tokyo. The new vehicles will give Tokyo-based Honda four hybrids in its lineup.
Slump leads to depression
The number of people in Hong Kong suffering from depression has risen by more than a third as the global economic crisis rocks the wealthy city of 7 million people, a survey released yesterday showed. Twelve percent of the city’s adult population now suffer from mild or more severe depression, said the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, which surveyed more than 2,000 people. The percentage is the highest level in seven years and a sharp rise on the 8.8 percent recorded last year and 8.3 percent recorded in 2007, researchers said.