AIG, MetLife discuss deal
American International Group Inc (AIG) is discussing a deal for all or part of its foreign unit, American Life Insurance Co, with MetLife Inc, according to a published report on Wednesday that cited people familiar with the matter. Alico operates in 50 countries, and a deal could offer its rival a chance to expand overseas quickly, the Wall Street Journal said in a report on its Web site. AIG must repay tens of billions of dollars to the US after it rescued the firm in September from potential bankruptcy, the newspaper said.
IMF raises growth outlook
The IMF has raised this year’s growth forecast for Asia’s developing economies from 4.8 percent to 5.5 percent, but cautioned that a sustained rebound would depend on recovery in developed economies. The Washington-based IMF cited improved prospects for regional giants China and India. In a report on Wednesday, it raised its growth outlook for China by 1 percentage point to 7.5 percent and for India by 0.9 percentage points to 5.4 percent. The IMF raised next year’s growth projection for developing Asian economies from 6.1 percent to 7 percent.
Jobless rate hits 5.8 percent
The unemployment rate rose to a six-year high of 5.8 percent last month as companies shed workers despite the government’s massive stimulus spending, official figures showed yesterday. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the number of people in jobs fell by 21,400, with a small increase in the number of part-time employees overwhelmed by losses in full-time employment. The increase in joblessness was more moderate than economists had predicted. The rate hit 5.8 percent for the first time since October 2003, rising from 5.7 percent in May.
Key rate still frozen
The central bank yesterday froze its key interest rate for the fifth straight month at a record low 2 percent, a statement said. The Bank of Korea’s decision to leave the seven-day repo rate unchanged came amid signs of economic improvement and easing inflationary pressure. The bank had made six consecutive rate cuts totalling 3.25 percentage points between October and February to prop up the export-dominated economy.
Sharp to boost production
Bucking the economic gloom, Japan’s Sharp Corp said yesterday that it would move to boost production of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels to meet increasing demand for flat-screen TVs. Sharp will increase production capacity by 10 percent at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan sometime from August. The company, which makes the popular AQUOS brand of LCD TVs, is also preparing to put a new LCD plant in Sakai, western Japan, into operation in October, ahead of the original schedule.
NTT DoCoMo raises goal
NTT DoCoMo Inc aims to ship as many as 1 million smartphones in Japan this year, helped by the release of a model running Google Inc’s Android operating system. The company aims to capture half of the country’s market for smartphones, estimated to be between 1.5 million and 2 million units in the 12 months ending on Dec. 31, president Ryuji Yamada said yesterday. The Tokyo-based carrier will begin selling an Android handset made by Taiwan’s HTC Corp (宏達電) tomorrow to compete with Apple Inc’s iPhone offered by rival Softbank Corp.