FOREIGN BANKS TO GET CHINA LEEWAY
Beijing is taking further steps to make
it easier for foreign banks to do business in China.
The proposals - including freedom to
process yuan transactions in more Chinese cities - are part of plans to
liberalise the industry by 2007.
China's banking regulator said that
foreign banks would be permitted to conduct yuan transactions in 25 cities
including Harbin, Nanning and Ningbo.
Beijing has also said it will stop
subsidising its own loss-making banks.
Foreign banks have been building their
presence in China, where they are currently authorised to operate in 18 cities.
The government will no longer pay for
the losses made by commercial banks
The capital threshold for foreign bank
branches wanting to open in China is also set to be reduced from $62m (£53m) to
Beijing is keen to encourage new
banking services in the west, north-east and central region of the country.
China is obliged to open its banking
sector to foreign competition as part of its admission to the World Trade
"With the grace period provided by
China's WTO agreement approaching the end, the CBRC has - with the fostering of
a strategic global vision - been actively pushing forward the opening up of the
Chinese banking sector," said Liu Mingkang, head of the China Banking
Regulatory Commission (CBRC).
Mr Liu said the state would no longer
prop up ailing domestic banks, a strategy used to make them attractive to
"The government will no longer pay for the losses
made by commercial banks," he said.
UK OFFERS MORE FUNDS TO EU BUDGET
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has
said Britain is ready to pay an extra 1bn euros (£680m) per year into the
European Union budget.
The offer is part of a package aimed at
ending deadlock over the 2007-13 EU budget before the end of the year.
Mr Straw said Britain wanted to pay its
fair share of the costs of enlargement.
But the President of the European
Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the UK deal was "unacceptable"
and left the EU with insufficient funds.
The proposed deal cuts development aid
to the 10 new member states but makes it easier for them to get the money.
Key points of uk proposal:
The UK pays 8bn euros more over seven
Total budget of 847bn euros over the period
Spending goes below 1% of EU gross national income by 2013
Cut in development aid to new member states
Cuts in rural development payments to older members
Cut in funding for EU bureaucracy
Major review of all spending, including CAP, in 2008
The overall size of the budget would
also be reduced to 847bn euros from the 871bn euros proposed by the Luxembourg
EU presidency earlier this year.
Mr Barroso said the UK proposal was
more suited to a "mini-Europe, not the strong Europe that we need".
"As it is, the UK presidency
proposal is unacceptable. It is simply not realistic," he said. He added
that it needed to become "fairer" to the new member states.
SAUDI ECONOMY 'EXPANDING RAPIDLY'
Saudi Arabia will see strong economic
growth this year, fuelled by rocketing oil prices, according to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The world's biggest oil producer should
see its current account surplus reach 30% of gross domestic product this year,
the IMF's annual review said.
And government debt levels should drop
to about 45.5% of GDP.
The country has enjoyed a 34% leap in
oil revenues this year as crude prices have hit record levels.
The IMF praised the Saudi government
for its "prudent macroeconomic management" and its effective use of
oil revenues to invigorate the private sector.
The Fund said Saudi Arabia now faced
challenges in how to manage the boost in domestic revenues without derailing
reforms to the non-oil sector.
These reforms have created jobs and
improved the country's resistance to any potential shocks in the oil market.
OIL PRICES SLIP ON RISE IN US STOCKS
Oil prices fell on Wednesday last after
news that US stockpiles of crude oil and refined products rose sharply over the
past week, easing concerns about a supply crunch, dealers said.
Wednesday's weekly snapshot of energy
inventories from the Department of Energy (DoE) helped to reverse earlier gains,
made amid concerns over heating fuel supplies during the northern hemisphere
New York's main contract, light sweet
crude for delivery in January, lost 54 cents to 59.40 dollars per barrel in pit
In London, the price of Brent North Sea
crude for January delivery shed 47 cents to 57.14 dollars per barrel in
China signed its biggest-ever deal with
European aircraft maker Airbus, ordering 150 mid-range planes with a value of
nearly $10 billion during a visit by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
The contract, signed by Airbus chief
executive Gustav Humbert and the president of the China Aviation Supplies Import
and Export Group, Li Hai, covers aircraft from Airbus's A320 family of
single-aisle planes, which typically seat up to 185 passengers.
It is nominally worth around $9.7
billion based on catalogue prices but an undisclosed discount was applied, as
often occurs for large orders.
ASIAN STATES AGREE TO POOL ENERGY
Asian countries, including central
Asian republics, China and Russia, agreed to pool their vast energy resources
and enhance regional cooperation by uniting financial resources and technical
expertise to counter a looming energy crisis in the world.
They also jointly asked the United
States not to follow destructive policies in different regions of the world for
its own energy security and stressed that Asian countries comprised energy
producers as well as consumers and should cooperate with each other for economic
BUSH SAYS IRAQ ECONOMY IMPROVING
US President George W Bush has said
"tangible progress" has been made in rebuilding Iraq's economy, but
this had "not always gone as well as we hoped".
In a speech aimed at winning US public
support ahead of the Iraqi general election next week, Mr Bush focused on the
rehabilitation of public services.
The cities of Najaf and Mosul had seen
improvement, he said, but poor security had hampered reconstruction efforts.
Mr Bush has come under growing pressure
from Democrats on the issue of Iraq.
Opinion polls give him the lowest
approval of his presidency and suggest waning public support for the Iraq
EXXON RETURNS TO LIBYA
ExxonMobil, the world's largest energy
producer, is returning to Libya after an absence of almost 25 years.
It has signed a deal with Libya's state
oil company to explore offshore energy deposits.
Both Exxon and Mobil once had
significant business interests in Libya, producing the country's first oil field
and shipping oil to market.
WORLD BANK BACKS $100M IRAQ LOAN
The World Bank has approved a $100m
(£57.8m) loan to Iraq to help reduce overcrowding in the country's schools.
The loan, the international lender's
first to Iraq in more than 30 years, will finance the building of some 82
primary and secondary schools.
It will also be used to support Iraqi
government educational reforms in the worn-torn country.
The World Bank evacuated its staff from
Iraq in 2003 after the United Nations headquarters were bombed in Baghdad.
UK INTEREST RATES
UK interest rates are expected to be
kept on hold at 4.5% when the Bank of England announces its latest monthly
decision at midday.
Such a move by the bank's Monetary
Policy Committee (MPC) would mean the core rate remaining unchanged for the
fourth month in succession.
'SURGE' IN UK CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
UK consumer confidence is bouncing back
in the run up to Christmas, according to a survey from the Nationwide building
Its consumer confidence index rose by
nine points in November to 101, the largest monthly increase recorded since the
survey began last year.
This followed three successive monthly
falls which saw the index fall in October to its lowest level yet. Confidence is
now back to levels seen in the summer, Nationwide said.
SOUTH KOREA FINES MICROSOFT $32M
Microsoft has been fined 33bn won
($32m; £18.4m) following an antitrust ruling by South Korean regulators.
The US software giant was ordered to
unbundle its messaging service from its Windows software by South Korea's Fair
Regulators ordered Microsoft to
introduce a version of Windows which enables the embedding of services by other
software companies. The news came as Microsoft announced plans to invest $1.7bn
UN URGES CLOSE CENTRAL ASIAN TIES
The five ex-Soviet republics of central
Asia could double their incomes over the next 10 years through improved regional
cooperation, according to a United Nations report.
The region's 60 million people face
massive challenges from high trade costs, poverty, natural disasters and
disease, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says.
But more open borders could
significantly reduce these challenges, the UNDP says.
The new report focuses on what is
arguably central Asia's biggest problem - the harmful effects of the illogical
Soviet era borders which now divide the region.
MICROSOFT INVESTS $1.7BN IN INDIA
The US software giant Microsoft has
unveiled plans to invest $1.7bn (£981m) in India over the next four years.
The company said it would create 3,000
new jobs in the country and pump more money into research and development.
Microsoft is keen expand its operations
in India, a country where well-trained workers are available at a fraction of
what they cost in the West.
Last week, the world's largest
chipmaker Intel announced plans to invest $1bn in India.
Intel said it planned to substantially
boost research and development in the country over the next five years.
US CONSUMER CREDIT AT 15-YEAR LOW
US consumer borrowing fell by $7.2bn
(£4.1bn) in October, the steepest monthly decline in 15 years, a Federal
Reserve report has shown.
This represented a 4% drop, caused in
part by a big drop in car loans.
As a result, total US consumer debt
totalled $2.157 trillion in October, compared to $2.164 trillion in September.
The figures took analysts by surprise
as they had expected consumer credit to rise by $5bn in October.
AIRCRAFT LIFT US FACTORY ORDERS
New orders at US factories rose 2.2% in
October, fuelled by high demand for aircraft and aerospace parts.
The 142% jump in orders for military
aircraft and parts, and 51% rise for civilian jets, helped offset a 1% decline
for cars and car parts.
When the transport sector is removed,
factory orders were up a smaller 0.6%, said the US Commerce Department.
October's 2.2% rise to $400bn (£230bn)
came after September's 1.4% decline caused by the recent hurricanes.
The October increase was in line with
Computer orders fell 0.8%, while demand
for electrical equipment and appliances declined by 3.4%.
CHINESE CAR EXPORTS TOP IMPORTS
Chinese car exports are exceeding
imports for the first time, figures show, but officials have warned of possible
over-production in the sector.
Exports more than doubled to 135,000
units between January and October while imports fell 1.6% to 128,000.
However, exports were largely trucks or
low-cost vehicles while imports were far more valuable, tending to be luxury
models from the US, Japan and Europe.
The Ministry of Commerce said there was
a glut of about two million vehicles.
Domestic overcapacity could increase
further, it said, as new car plants were continuing to be built.
Ma Kai, minister in charge of the State
Development and Reform Commission, said no new steel factories would be approved
in principle next year in an effort to stem output.
UK DEFICIT WIDENS AS GROWTH SLOWS
The Chancellor has admitted that the UK
economy is growing more slowly than he had hoped after a "tough year".
Mr Brown said it was the doubling of
oil prices and high house prices that had put pressure on the economy.
He predicted that the economy would
grow by just 1.75% this year - half the rate he had forecast six months ago.
And he has accepted that the public
finances will be £5bn worse off as a result - and extended the economic cycle
by another two years.
But his tone remained upbeat as he
claimed credit for keeping the economy on an even keel.