US mulling regional FTA
The US has sounded out its Asian and Pacific partners on the possibility of creating a regional free trade agreement (FTA) as a "middle and long-term" objective, a press report said yesterday. The US administration would seek an agreement on its regional FTA proposal during the APEC summit in Hanoi on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported. The US State Department had approached the Japanese foreign and trade ministries in October and said Washington wanted to discuss the possibility of an APEC-wide FTA, the daily quoted Japanese government sources as saying.
Nippon buys into Usiminas
Japan's Nippon Steel Corp plans to buy a 1.7 percent stake in major Brazilian steelmaker Usiminas to expand its supply capacity for the Americas and Europe, a report said yesterday. The top Japanese steelmaker is also considering taking part in a blast furnace project in Brazil planned by Usiminas, or Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA, the leading business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. The two companies are due to announce the plan early this week with details of the investment to be worked out later, the paper said, adding that Nippon Steel would buy the equity by year's end.
■ Stock markets
NYSE to cut floor space
The NYSE has announced plans to cut back its floor trading space in a further move toward electronic trading as it tries to cut costs and keep up with global competition. The world's biggest equity market, one of the last that still uses a system of open-cry trading, said it would close one of its five trading floors within the next 18 months, citing improvements in technology that make trading more efficient. The NYSE traces its roots to a gathering of 24 brokers under a tree on Wall Street in 1792 but is now coping with rapid technological change and globalization. Wall Street's most well-known institution underwent a change last year to become a publicly traded company under the ticker "NYX."
DB hiring new staff
Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, said it would be hiring new staff in the years to come in both Asia and Germany, but rejected a news report on Saturday that it was transferring thousands of German jobs to India. Spokesman Ronald Weichert said, "We want to grow the workforce in Germany and worldwide," but gave no figures. Without providing further details, he rejected a report in the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel that three Deutsche Bank subsidiaries in India would increase their joint workforce to 2,200 by the end of this year and to 4,000 next year.
Shell mulls Iran bid
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, may bid on the "Master Development Plan" for Iran's offshore Kish gas field, the Iranian Oil Ministry said on its Web sites. Several domestic and foreign companies including Shell have shown interest in taking part in the tender on the field in the Persian Gulf, the report on the Web site said, citing Iran's Offshore Oil Company managing director Mahmoud Zirakchianzadeh. The ministry didn't give further details. Shell, together with Madrid-based Repsol YPF SA and National Iranian Oil Co, holds a stake in a US$2.5 billion Iranian liquefied natural gas project.