Mahathir renews attack on
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday renewed his attack
on unfettered globalization, saying the rich West was ganging up to dominate the
Opening a three-day Asia-Africa forum, Mahathir told developing nations
that they risked being recolonised if they failed to cooperate to ward off the dangers of
The premier said "new capitalists" in the West were growing
more powerful and less considerate.
Where once Western governments used to abhor monopolies, they are now
encouraging the formation of cartels and oligopolies to dominate the world. Each one of
their mega-entities is bigger in terms of capital than any of us developing countries, he
The rich countries of the north are ganging up ... We on the other
hand, are greatly divided partly because we don't seem to know how to work together but
mostly because the superpowers are actively preventing us from cooperating.
For example, Mahathir said his proposed East Asia Economic Community
had failed to get off the ground due to United States' disapproval.
Now the US is even opposing the setting up of an Asian Monetary Fund
for fear it might undermine the IMF and therefore US hegemony, he said.
We now have to prepare ourselves to face and deal with challenges and
dangers arising from new ideas about the structure of the world's economy, trade and
finance. Most of all, we have to deal with the self-declared right of some countries to
interfere in the affairs of others.
The premier said the gap between rich and poor was unprecedentedly
Malaysia announces robust growth
Malaysia announced robust first-quarter growth of 11.7 per cent
year-on-year and said overall national output was almost back to levels set before the
Asian economic crisis.
The central bank said the rise in gross domestic product (GDP) compared
to a revised 10.8 per cent year-on-year growth in October-December.
The manufacturing sector grew 27.3 per cent year-on-year in the first
three months compared to a 24.2 per cent rise the previous quarter. The sector's output
exceeded pre-crisis levels for the third consecutive quarter.
'Indonesia's economic reform will take time'
Indonesia's economic recovery and reform programme will take time, and
the country may have to resign itself to a "creditless" growth rate of
two-to-three per cent for the next couple of years, a leading economist predicted.
Perhaps we are in for a period perhaps two or three years
in which not much will happen, unlike South Korea or Thailand, Mari Pangestu, the exective
director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told an international
Thyssen: German steel and engineering firm ThyssenKrupp said its
net income in the six months through March jumped 57 per cent to 170.7 million, or 0.33
per share from 0.21. Pretax profit virtually doubled to 366.5 million. Revenue rose 10 per
cent to 17.4 billion.
Novell: Internet services software provider Novell Inc. the
Provo, Utah-based company posted net income of $31 million, or 2 cents a share, compared
with net income of $39 million, or 11 cents a share in the year-earlier period.
UBS: Swiss-based UBS reported a net profit of 2.2 billion Swiss
francs ($1.28 billion), or 5.61 francs per diluted share, for the three months ended Mar.
31, ahead of the 1.9 billion franc consensus among analysts polled by Reuters.
Fortis: Dutch-Belgian financial-services company Fortis,
Europe's largest combined banking and insurance company, posted net earnings of 851
million ($771 million) for the three months ended Mar. 31 compared with 457 million for
the year-ago quarter.
DoCoMo: Japanese mobile-phone operator NTT DoCoMo, posted net
earnings of ¥252.14 billion ($2.37 billion) for the year to Mar. 31.
House approves China trade pact
The House of Representatives approved a bill early Wednesday evening
that grants the People's Republic of China a permanent trade agreement on par with many of
the privileges enjoyed by America's closest allies.
The chamber's passage of the bill by a 237-197 margin shifts the issue
to the Senate, which is expected to take up its own bill to offer China permanent normal
trade relations (PNTR) in early June, soon after returning from its Memorial Day recess.
The Senate is expected to approve the measure.
Wednesday's final passage brings an end to a long string of anxious
days for both proponents and opponents of the bill. Both groups, aided by business and
interests respectively, engaged in frenzied bids to bring a large
number of undecided House members over to their side as the clock ticked down to the time
of the final vote.
A visibly relieved President Bill Clinton, speaking in the White House
Rose Garden soon after the vote, thanked House members for their support, then immediately
turned his attention to the Senate, indicating he would not let up on members of the upper
chamber, even if its passage of the trade agreement seemed assured.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), speaking Wednesday evening,
urged the Senate to pass the House version of the bill rather than the version approved
earlier by the Senate Finance Committee.
To pass the 435-member House, the China trade bill needed to garner at
least 218 "yes" votes.
With passage sewn up, 164 Republicans and 73 Democrats voted in favor
of the trade agreement, while 57 Republicans and 138 Democrats voted against.
Japan heads south again?
Japan's stop-go economy could already be screeching to a halt once more
after a quarter of runaway growth, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said on Sunday.
Speaking on a television talk show, Miyazawa confirmed widespread
expectations of as much as two per cent growth between January and March but said the key
to continued expansion was whether stagnant consumption can finally start to pick up.
"This (growth) will depend on how much private consumption can
improve in the April-June period," the veteran finance minister said.
"GDP may grow slightly, but it may also show a contraction."
Trade deficit hits record
The U.S. trade deficit widened to a record in March as demand for
imported goods such as cars and aircraft parts continued at a hearty clip and the cost of
oil held near decade highs even as exports jumped for a second month to a record,
the government reported.
The trade deficit, which measures the amount of money spent on imports
coming into the United States versus the amount taken in from exports leaving the country,
widened in March to $30.2 billion, the Commerce Department said. That figure, which is the
highest ever recorded for the deficit, was well above February's revised $28.7 billion
deficit and above economists' estimates of a $29.7 billion deficit.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Philips Electronics of the Netherlands
made a $1.1 billion takeover bid for U.S. medical electronics firm MedQuist, offering $51
per share cash for approximately 60 per cent of MedQuist's stock.
Chase Manhattan Corp., the No. 2 U.S.
commercial bank ranked by assets, agreed to pay between $450 million and $500 million in
cash for Beacon, according to analysts.
The Department of Justice on Thursday
conditionally approved AT&T's proposed $62 billion acquisition of cable television
firm MediaOne, clearing one of the last hurdles in a mammoth deal that would make AT&T
the nation's largest cable company.
WatsonSchein: Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed Thursday
to buy struggling rival Schein Pharmaceutical Inc. for roughly $673.3 million in cash and
HKTHong Kong Internet:
The board of telecom operator Cable
& Wireless HKT finally approved an offer from Hong Kong Internet investor Pacific
Century CyberWorks on Thursday. The value of the deal has fallen to $26.25 billion,
compared with $35.9 billion on Feb. 29.
United Airlines is buying struggling US
Airways for $4.3 billion in cash, a move that roiled airline stocks and raised objections
from United's powerful pilots' union.
FujitsuAMD: Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. moved to grab a larger
slice of the booming world chip market Tuesday, saying it will build a 140 billion yen
($1.3 billion) flash memory plant with U.S. chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Software developer webMethods
Inc. announced plans Monday to buy Active Software Inc. in a $1.3 billion all-stock deal.
Dow hit by financials
The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled more than 200 points Thursday,
hit by a plunge in financial stocks and by concerns over Microsoft, which fell to its
lowest level in a year.
Higher for most of the session, the Nasdaq composite index also lost
value by day's end, as investors in the last minutes of trading bailed out of Intel, Cisco
Systems and Sun Microsystems.
The losses disappointed analysts hoping the two major indexes would eke
out two straight higher closes for the first time in a week.
Dow financials J.P. Morgan and Citigroup tumbled after Merrill Lynch
slashed its earnings estimates for Goldman Sachs. The index of 30-blue chip stocks fell
211.43 points, or 2 per cent, to 10,323.92.
Microsoft dragged heavily on the Dow after a federal judge signalled
that the government's proposal to break up the company may not go far enough.
The Nasdaq, meanwhile, fell 65.26, or 2 per cent, to 3,205.35, dropping
for the sixth time in seven sessions.
The S&P 500 dipped 17.53 to 1,381.52.
GDP remains robust
The pace of the U.S. economy remained robust during the first three
months of the year, though not as frenetic as in the fourth quarter, as consumers
continued to spend and businesses racked up profits without trigging excessive increases
A separate, private industry report showed that existing home sales
declined at a swifter-than-expected pace last month.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services
produced, advanced at a 5.4 per cent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department
said, which is the same pace as initially tallied a month ago and slightly above analysts'
forecasts of a revision to a 5.2 per cent gain. The GDP price deflator, a key inflation
gauge, rose at a 2.7 per cent annual rate, the same rate initially recorded a month ago
and in line with economists' forecasts.
Jobless claims rise
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits
rose to 284,000 in the week ended May 20 from a revised 278,000 the prior week, the U.S.
Department of Labor said Thursday.
The four-week moving average of claims, which generally provides a more
accurate picture of jobless trends, rose to 291,000 for the May 20 week from 290,500 the
ECB holds rates at 3.75%
The European Central Bank (ECB) left its key interest rate unchanged at
3.75 per cent at its latest biweekly meeting on Thursday amid signs of a recovery in the
euro and a narrowing gap in relative growth rates with the United States.
Tokyo stocks up, HK slips
Asian stock markets posted a mixed performance on Thursday, with
Tokyo's blue-chip index breaking six sessions of declines in the wake of a rebound in U.S.
markets while Hong Kong succumbed to a late selloff in technology shares.
The approval by the U.S. House of Representatives of a landmark trade
deal with China also boosted the region's economic outlook, though continuing tensions
between China and Taiwan hit the latter's equity market.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 203 points to close at 16,247.38,
lifted by its heavyweight telecom and technology shares.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended down 13 points, or 0.1 per
cent, at 13,921.06 having earlier climbed as high as 14,250.
Singapore's Straits Times also reversed course in the afternoon
session, closing down for the sixth straight session at 1,850.24, a loss of 1.16 per cent.
In Seoul, the Kospi index was the region's best performer, jumping 3.64
per cent to close at 699.53 and break a three-session decline, with financial stocks the
French 1Q GDP rises 0.7%
France's economy grew 0.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2000, below
a forecast 1 per cent, but economists said the euro zone's second-largest economy was
still on track to meet a target of at least 3.4 per cent growth this year.