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World Business Quick Take



Spending freeze imposed

The new government said yesterday that it would freeze part of its predecessor’s extra budget to weed out wasteful spending, but insisted it was committed to reviving the economy. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to put more money in the pockets of ordinary people with cash allowances for families, free high-school education and an end to highway tolls. Hatoyama instructed his Cabinet members to suspend part of the extra budget, worth ¥3.9 trillion (US$152 billion), Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told reporters. Hatoyama instructed each minister to review all of the public projects related to the additional budget for this fiscal year and to report back by Oct. 2, Hirano said.


Aiful requets creditor help

Ailing Japanese consumer finance company Aiful said yesterday it will ask creditors to let it delay repayments of ¥280 billion in debt, triggering massive sell orders of its stock and pressuring other financial shares. Aiful shares were untraded yesterday due to a glut of sell orders. The announcement rattled investors and contributed to the decline in the Japanese stock market. Aiful closed at ¥184 on Thursday, down 5.6 percent from Wednesday. Aiful will ask 66 financial institutions next week to postpone its debt repayments.


Palm posts loss

Smart phone maker Palm Inc posted a wider loss for its fiscal first quarter on Thursday as revenue dropped, but adjusted earnings and sales handily beat Wall Street’s expectations. For the three months ended Aug. 28, the company posted a loss after paying preferred dividends of US$164.5 million, or US$1.17 per share, compared with a loss of US$41.9 million, or US$0.39 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue tumbled to US$68 million from US$366.9 million. But adjusted sales, which exclude deferred revenue and cost of sales from the Pre smart phone, totaled US$360.7 million.


Swiss probe UBS AG

UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank by assets, is under investigation by the Swiss stock exchange over its handling of public reporting. The Swiss exchange “began an investigation into possible breaches by UBS AG of the provisions on the ad hoc publicity in the period from 2007 to the end of 2008,” it said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. During that period, UBS reported losses of 54.5 billion Swiss francs (US$52.9 billion), more than any other European bank, after getting caught by the slide in the US housing market. The Swiss government bought UBS mandatory convertible notes last year to help the Zurich-based bank split off toxic assets.


KIST invents new transistor

Researchers at the state-run Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said yesterday they had developed a new transistor, which moves faster and consumes less energy than existing semiconductors, and would open the way for no-booting computers. They said the new transistor uses not only the on-off state of electric current but also electrons’ spinning directions — clockwise and counter-clockwise — to handle information. “The prototype spin transistor has paved the way for developing new computers that do not require the time-consuming booting process,” said Koo Hyun-cheol, one of the researchers. “It will also help develop devices which have memory and central processing units merged into a single chip,” he said.

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