S. ARABIA'S ECONOMY GREW BY
5.3PC IN 2004
Riding on high oil prices, the
Saudi GDP grew by 5.3 per cent in 2004, the Saudi Arabian Monetary
Agency (SAMA) said in a report presented to King Abdullah.
Spelling out the country's
major economic achievements in 2004, SAMA Governor Hamad Al-Sayari said
the kingdom had achieved a record budget surplus of SR107 billion
($28.5bn) last year as a result of soaring world oil prices.
While receiving the report on
the health of the Saudi economy, the king reiterated that Saudi Arabia
would continue efforts to attract more foreign investment by revising
King Abdullah also reaffirmed
the kingdom's resolve to go ahead with its reform programmes in order to
achieve continuous progress and prosperity. He emphasized the
government's policy of increased spending on long-term productive
projects that promote prosperity of its citizens, create job
opportunities and strengthen the economy.
Presenting the SAMA report to
the king, Sayari predicted that the Kingdom's economy would achieve
strong growth this year and in the coming years. "The Kingdom's
balance of payments registered a record surplus of SR194.7 ($51.92)
billion in 2004," Sayari said.
During 2004 the Kingdom
achieved high economic results in various sectors, for the third
consecutive year. "The national revenue grew by 16.8 percent and
the actual gross domestic product increased by 5.3 percent in
2004," he said, adding that there was substantial increase in
monetary supply and bank loans. "This again shows the dynamic role
of the private sector," he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia is expected to
register even a huge budget surplus in 2005. The Samba Financial Group
has predicted that the kingdom's real GDP growth will be 6.5 per cent in
2005 and oil export revenues will be SR589 billion. The budget surplus
will be SR191 billion.
JAPANESE ECONOMY RECOVERING
Japanese corporate profits and
consumer spending are picking up, the government said in a monthly
report on Wednesday in which it maintained its assessment that the
economy is in a moderate recovery.
"The economy is recovering
at a moderate pace," the government said in its October report.
The headline statement took out
September's reference to improving business and household conditions,
but the Cabinet Office said the change was simply to reflect confidence
that the better conditions would continue.
The only other change in the
report was a slight tweaking in the view of overall business conditions,
which was altered to say they were "improving" rather than
Economic data since the
government's last monthly report has been upbeat.
Earlier this month, the Bank of
Japan's tankan survey showed business confidence improved in the
July-September quarter, although the results were weaker than forecast
Exports are also picking up
after months of weak growth. In volume terms, exports rose 2.0 per cent
in August year-on-year after falling 0.8 per cent in July.
Particularly encouraging was a
pick-up in exports to Asia, an official at the Cabinet Office said.
"Exports to Asia,
especially China, had been weak for a while so the latest figures may
mean the risk of weak exports is abating," he said.
The report reiterated that
consumer spending was increasing moderately and manufacturing output was
On the outlook, the report
repeated the government's concerns on oil prices, saying they should be
monitored for their effects on both domestic and overseas economies.
CHINA TO OPEN UP BANKING SECTOR
China aims to open up its
banking sector further by raising the cap on foreign banks' stakes and
making it easier for them to set up branches, a senior bank regulator
Foreign investors, eager to
boost their market presence, have lobbied hard for China to drop its 25
per cent ceiling on foreign ownership of a local bank. A single overseas
owner is limited to a 20 per cent stake.
Li Fuan, deputy chief of policy
and regulation at the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), said
the government would set varied ceilings on foreign ownership in
domestic banks, allowing smaller lenders to sell a bigger chunk of
"The 25 per cent cap is
transitional and it will be changed shortly," Mr Li told Reuters in
an interview. He did not give a timeframe.
Beijing, worried that domestic
banks are unprepared for greater competition, is trying to entice
foreign capital and expertise into a sector saddled with $200 billion in
UZBEKISTAN TO INVEST IN TEXTILE
Uzbekistan foresees investment
of $1.5 billion in its textiles sector over the next three years as it
tries to add value to its cotton output, a senior Uzbek official said.
The Central Asian country,
currently the world's sixth largest cotton producer and second largest
exporter, has earmarked 100 projects that will boost textile production,
said Rustam Azimov, minister for foreign economic relations.
"In 2008 we will be
processing 51 per cent of the cotton fibre produced inside the
country," Azimov told a cotton trade fair in Tashkent.
This year Uzbekistan plans to
export 860,000 tons of cotton fibre. But in three years' time, growth in
textile production will mean raw cotton exports dropping to 530,000
tonnes, Azimov said.
Gold clearing volumes rose just
over 15 per cent to a daily average of 17.5 million ounces in September,
the highest level for that month since 2001 and the second-highest for
the current year, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) said.
Based on an average fixing of
$456.05 an ounce, up $18 from August, the LBMA said value rose to a
daily average of $8.0 billion from $6.7 billion in August. The number of
transfers surged 21.4 per cent to an average of 965 a day, the highest
since October 1999.
The WH Smith reported pre-tax
profits before one-off costs of £64m ($112m) for the year to 31 August,
reversing a loss of £135m in 2004.
BIRD FLU FOUND IN ROMANIAN
The EU has banned all bird and
poultry products from Romania after tests confirmed the presence of a
strain of bird flu there.
Duck samples tested positive
for the H5 virus, contradicting earlier findings.
But there is no evidence yet
that the strain is the serious H5N1 variety, which has killed 60 people
in Asia. Further tests will be carried out.
TYPHOO TEA BOUGHT BY INDIAN
Typhoo tea has been sold to
India's Apeejay Surrendra Group for £80m ($140m) by its UK owner
The deal will see Apeejay buy
Premier's entire tea business, which also includes the London Fruit
& Herb, Lift and QT brands.
Premier's tea blending and
packing unit at Moreton, Wirral, which employs 249 people, is also
included in the deal.
IRAQ PROMISES OIL EXPORT GROWTH
Iraq is on course for a 20%
rise in its oil exports by the start of 2006, the head of its energy
Ahmad Chalabi said output for
export should hit 1.8 million barrels a day by January, when elections
take place and a new administration takes power.
Talking to Reuters, he backed
the idea that US and UK oil firms should have priority in Iraq's oil
Mr Chalabi, once a US favourite
to lead Iraq before falling out with Washington DC, is now a key
IRAQI MPS APPROVE CHARTER
Iraq's parliament has approved
last-minute changes to the draft constitution aimed at overcoming Sunni
The changes - agreed by
representatives of the communities on Tuesday night - were endorsed
One Sunni party has said it
will back the draft if MPs elected in the December elections can review
it. Other Sunnis maintain their boycott.
US-CHINA TEXTILE TALKS BREAK
The latest round of talks
between the US and China aimed at settling the row over Chinese textile
In a statement, US negotiator
David Spooner said the two could not reach an agreement "that meets
the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers".
A surge in Chinese textile
exports since the start of this year, when a global tariff deal lapsed,
has sparked discontent in both the US and Europe.
The European Union has already
agreed temporary limits on import growth.
After teething troubles, which
saw the 2005 quotas filled up within weeks, the 25-nation bloc will cap
expansion at 8%-12.5% a year till 2007.
The US would like a similar
deal, not least to silence calls from both unions and legislators for
tough action on China - perhaps including sanctions.
Department store chain Bhs
reported sales of £889.2m ($1.5bn) in the year to 2 April, as operating
profits fell 5.8% to £105.1m.
Managers shared a total
dividend payout of £199.5m last year, after Bhs reported a record
operating profit of £111.6m.
Unemployment fell by 7,000
between June and August to 1.42 million, according to figures from the
Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This leaves the number of
people in work at a record high of 28.76 million, the highest total
since records began in 1971.
NO BREAKTHROUGH IN WTO TRADE
World Trade Organization talks
in Geneva have failed to find agreement after the US said the European
Union (EU) was not making enough concessions.
Trade ministers had spent three
days trying to secure the framework for a new global free trade
agreement intended to be put in place in 2006.
The US and EU have so far
failed to agree cuts to food import tariffs and subsidies for their own
farmers. America's Rob Portman said the EU was proposing
IPOD HELPS APPLE
Apple has quadrupled its
quarterly profits, thanks to global sales of more than 6.5 million of
its iPod music players over the past three months.
Net profit in the fiscal fourth
quarter ending 24 September rose to $430m (£246m), from $106m a year
HARLEY-DAVIDSON SEES STRONG
Harley-Davidson thanked ongoing strong global demand for its bikes as it
reported a 16% rise in third-quarter profits.
Beating market expectations,
its net profits for the three months to 25 September were $265m
(£151m), up from $229m for the same time a year earlier.
Sales increased 10% to $1.43bn,
from $1.3bn a year before, with double-digit rises seen in the US,
Europe and Japan.
FED SAYS KATRINA IMPACT LIMITED
The US Federal Reserve voted to
keep on raising interest rates last month because it did not think the
impact of Hurricane Katrina warranted a pause.
Releasing its minutes of the 20
September meeting, the Fed said damage caused by Katrina would only have
a temporary inflationary effect.
The Fed also said it did not
want people to get the wrong idea that the US economy could be blown off
course. Last month it raised rates by 0.25% for the 11th month in a row
KATRINA CLAIMS WIDEN UK TRADE
Britain's trade gap with the
rest of the world hit a record high in August following insurance claims
from Hurricane Katrina and lower oil output.
The Office for National
Statistics (ONS) said the deficit grew to £5.3bn in August, after
£3.9bn in July.
It is estimated the Lloyd's of
London insurance market will have to pay about £1.4bn in claims arising
North Sea oil output fell due
to longer than usual summer maintenance and a fire in one oil field.
GLOBALISATION 'GAINS' IN
Severe damage predicted to hit
several Asian nations after textile quotas ended at the start of the
year has failed to materialise, a report says.
The International Labour
Organization (ILO) argues that - as foreseen - China and India are among
the big winners.
But Bangladesh, which had been
expected to be among the worst affected countries, saw exports rise in
February and March 2005 after a fall in January.
But Europe and the US have lost
jobs, and Africa has been hit hardest of all.
The report precedes a
conference convened by the ILO in Geneva to discuss the future of the
textile industry in the wake of the end of the Multi Fibre Agreement.
That agreement - which limited
textile imports to rich countries - ended in January, leading to a
free-for-all among developing countries.