Australia implements tough cigarette packaging rules, raises tax by 25%
(SYDNEY) Tobacco companies would be forced to use plain, logo-free packaging on their cigarettes in a bid to make them less attractive to smokers under legislation introduced yesterday by Australia’s government, which dubbed the move a world-first.
ANZ chief worried about world economy
(MELBOURNE) The head of Australian banking giant ANZ voiced renewed fears about the global economy yesterday, describing Europe as a ‘mess’, despite a steep rise in profits.
Airline execs bullish after faster growth in Q1
(SINGAPORE) Business confidence among airline executives has improved for the first time in more than a year, according to a survey by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
EU to end curbs on liquids in hand luggage by 2013
(BRUSSELS) The European Union will end current restrictions on liquids in air passengers’ hand luggage by April 2013 in an overhaul of aviation security, the EU’s executive said yesterday. European airports will have to install new technology capable of detecting liquid explosives as a result of the move.
Baidu Q1 profit more than doubles
(SHANGHAI) Internet search firm Baidu Inc is emerging as a big winner following Google’s recent retreat from China as it reported profit more than doubled in the first quarter.
ICBC’s Q1 profit rises 18% on credit demand
(BEIJING) Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the world’s largest lender by market value, said profit rose 18 per cent in the first quarter as an economic recovery boosted demand for credit.
China urges banks to expand profit channels
(BEIJING) Chinese banks must develop new revenue streams because they can no longer rely on plump net interest margins for their profits, the country’s chief banking regulator said yesterday.
Pollution sparks health warning in HK
(HONG KONG) Hong Kong air pollution reached ‘very high’ levels at all three roadside station monitoring stations, prompting the government to advise people with heart or respiratory problems to avoid long stays in heavy traffic.
China cuts foreign debt quota to stem capital inflows
(BEIJING) China has cut its short-term foreign debt quota for this year by 1.5 per cent to prevent ‘abnormal’ capital inflows, the foreign exchange regulator said yesterday.
Genting jumps 8.7% on sector’s bullish outlook
GENTING Singapore’s share price rebounded from a seven-week low and surged 8.7 per cent yesterday to hit 94 cents on a bullish outlook for the Singapore gaming sector.
Sim Siang Choon acquiring oil and gas firm
BATHROOM products supplier Sim Siang Choon is diversifying into the oil and gas sector.
MCL Land gets boost from The Estuary writeback
A WRITEBACK of about US$51 million for an impairment charge on The Estuary condo in Yishun helped to boost MCL Land’s first-quarter net earnings to US$48.7 million. In the same period of last year, it posted net profit of US$1.4 million.
Ho Bee Q1 earnings rise 11.8%
PROPERTY developer Ho Bee Investment’s net profit for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010, rose to $41.7 million, an 11.8 per cent improvement from the same year-ago period.
DBS to have 100 more ATMs by year-end
DBS Group is adding 100 automated teller machines to its network islandwide, as part of a broader initiative to improve its customer service and cut waiting time at its bank branches and cash machines.
Absence of CDO loss lifts Venture Q1 results
VENTURE Corp posted a 42.3 per cent jump in net profit for the first quarter ended March 31 to $39.5 million, in the absence of fair value loss on a derivative financial instrument.
Analysts more upbeat on tourism stocks
WITH the tourism industry bouncing back as visitor arrivals continue to climb, analysts are more upbeat on tourism stocks.
Business research institute sets up office in S’pore
EDHEC-Risk Institute, known for its ‘research for business’ thrust, has set up an office in Singapore from which it aims to study issues central to investment and wealth management in Asia.
At a glance
Sembcorp’s takeover of Cascal turns hostile
SEMBCORP Industries’ hostile takeover of New York-listed water company Cascal is interesting to watch.
Thailand raises growth forecast for year
(BANGKOK) Thailand’s central bank raised its 2010 economic growth forecast to 4.3-5.8 per cent yesterday, buoyed by a strong rebound in exports, but it would have been stronger if not for weeks of political unrest, the bank said.
S Korea should raise rates, says Roach
(SEOUL) South Korea should raise interest rates from the current ‘crisis’ levels to avert an asset bubble, Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd chairman Stephen S Roach said.
Europe more confident about economy despite Greek crisis
(DUBLIN) European confidence in the economic outlook improved to the highest in more than two years and German unemployment plunged amid signs the euro-area recovery is strengthening even as Greece’s fiscal crisis spreads across the region.
Finding niches in wine scene
MAJOR wine festivals like Wine For Asia have dominated the wine scene in Singapore, along with wine-centric festivals like the World Gourmet Summit (WGS), which introduced a new Grandeur Of Wine fair this year.
Chat with a wine legend
‘UTTER fiction.’ That’s what Steven Spurrier calls the 2008 film Bottle Shock that made him a household name – at least, in homes where wine is savoured.
Blind tasting of Barolo 2004
2004 is regarded as one of the greatest of recent vintages of Barolo, the king of Italian wines.
Superpowered by audacity
SEQUELS often face such big expectations that it’s often safer to just do a reboot, as in the case of Star Trek.
A Singapore touch to Iron Man 2′s VFX
FANS who have been eagerly awaiting Iron Man 2 can expect to see more action and even better special effects than in the first film.
Light touch yields lasting impact
SOMETIMES a pin can make a bigger impression than a hammer, and that’s certainly the case with The Visitor, which begins innocently enough.
Basking in IR’s crowning glory
‘I FEEL like I am in a fairy tale,’ says the design architect Moshe Safdie as he surveys the fruits of his work – the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort – in all its completed glory, glittering against the Singapore skyline.
A one-woman show that soars
THE title Miss Very Wagner suggests a send-up of German composer Richard Wagner’s famously dramatic and heavy operas.
KL, from different angles
WE call it culture shock – the feelings of alienation and estrangement in their own country – when Asian students return from their studies in North America or Europe.
A moving document of history
ANYONE interested in Singapore’s development of the performing arts need look no further than Ong Keng Sen’s latest work: a lovingly-made documentary on the life of dance pioneer Goh Lay Kuan.
Laugh, not meditate
MOST theatre companies usually start off with a lofty goal – push the boundaries of local theatre; tackle sensitive issues such as homosexuality and social displacement; bring Singapore theatre to an international level, and so on. HuM Theatre, however, just wants to entertain.
Falling short, despite strong performances
VISUALLY, the production displayed raw beauty, from the sparseness of the props to the costumes (or lack of them). Performance-wise, the acting was pitch-perfect, with an honesty that shone through each cast member.
Rocking and rolling the Bard
THERE have been countless reworks of William Shakespeare plays over the past few decades.
LISA Ono (left) is a Brazil-born, Japanese bossa nova singer. Since her debut album, Catupiry, which was released in 1989, she has been unstoppable, releasing an album each year.
Vignettes of the ambitious Indian abroad
IMAGINE being a teetotaller vegetarian at a gathering of Indian families on a typical expatriate evening.
Breaking out of the box
THE danger of being famous for a particular technique on a musical instrument is people pigeon-holing the artist in that particular style.
Hitting the right notes
THERE have been some strong indie jazz releases from Singapore in the last year, including keyboardist Jeremy Monteiro’s Organamix and saxophonist Greg Lyons’ Smoke Signals.
Reformed plucked stringed instruments
THE liuqin looks like a small pipa and is known for its highly penetrative sounds in the Chinese orchestra.
First local video game music concert
THERE are few things that conjure memorable gaming moments as effectively as game music performed live with video footage projected on a screen.
India food inflation slows; may fall further
(NEW DELHI) India’s food inflation slowed as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said agriculture prices may cool further on prospects of sufficient rains this year.
PLN seeks investors for power plant
(JAKARTA) Indonesian state electricity firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) is seeking investors to build a US$750 million coal-fired power plant in South Sumatra, the company said yesterday.
Bank Negara expects growth forecast to be raised
MALAYSIA’S central bank is likely to raise its economic growth forecast for 2010 due to the continued improvement of the economy, Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said yesterday.
Malaysia says ‘no case’ in French submarine probe
(KUALA LUMPUR) Malaysia yesterday downplayed a French probe into claims of corruption over a US$1.1 billion submarine deal linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying there was ‘no case’ to answer. Mr Najib was defence minister when the deal was brokered.
Somalia piracy solution lies ashore: Bimco
(SINGAPORE) Two years after the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden first appeared, better anti-piracy measures and cooperation are starting to have an effect but infrastructure gaps especially on the shore side are hindering an effective solution, a top shipping executive said yesterday.
Drydocks World assesses post-riot fallout in Batam
(SINGAPORE) Drydocks World is striving to get back to business as usual as the dust settles from a riot last week by workers at a factory belonging to its Graha shipyard in Batam.
STI rebounds after 2 days of losses
NOT surprisingly, after losing about 70 points in a two-day sell-off on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Straits Times Index yesterday managed a bounce of 26.97 points to 2,959.01, described as ‘technical’ in some circles, but more likely due to short-covering.
NTUC social enterprises to be expanded
THE Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF) and the labour movement will expand the impact and scale of the NTUC social enterprises to better meet the needs of working families, chairman Mah Bow Tan said yesterday.
Top May Day award for three CEOs
COMFORTDELGRO managing director and group chief executive officer Kua Hong Pak is among 88 industry chiefs, companies, labour leaders and public-sector officials on the list for this year’s May Day awards.
Q1 refining margins back in the black at oil refineries here
SINGAPORE refineries have begun to see positive margins again in the first three months of this year, after two consecutive quarters of bleeding. But the refining industry is still far from being out of the woods.
More than 30 units of Marina Bay Suites sold
MORE than 30 units were sold at a preview for Marina Bay Suites yesterday. They were among a batch of 36 apartments released on nine floors in the 66-storey condominium project and which are priced between $2,167 per square foot and $3,133 psf.
Income to pay $8.6m in bonus cheques
INSURANCE cooperative NTUC Income is distributing a one-time first-ever cash bonus in cheques – a total of $8.6 million – to its ‘loyal’ customers.
SMEs get tips on opportunities in China
THERE are still plenty of opportunities for Singapore SMEs to grow in China – if they know how and where to look.
Index that tracks SME outlook, economic activity
HOT on the heels of Credit Bureau Singapore’s SME credit score comes another tool to aid small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
FAITHFUL BlackBerry users who are delighted with the new TrackPad – the optical finger navigation pad that replaced the TrackBall – owe some gratitude to homegrown company Moveon Technologies.
Fed opts for gentle touch on interest rates
IT was a message awash with hope and a surprisingly gentle punchline.
Banker’s ‘fresh start’ runs onto rocky road
(SINGAPORE) Agus Anwar may have once owned banks in Indonesia, but now he is owing rent.
Greek deal to be sealed in a few days: EU official
(BRUSSELS) European and German officials assured markets they were working quickly on approving a bailout for Greece as they try to keep the country’s debt crisis from dragging others into a continent-wide financial meltdown.
Tiger Beer scores with Wayne Rooney as its new face
(SINGAPORE) Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is the new celebrity face of homegrown Tiger Beer under a two-year deal announced by Asia Pacific Breweries (APB).
Changi reports strong rise in Q1 traffic
(SINGAPORE) In a sign the strong recovery in air travel is continuing, Changi Airport has reported a big increase in first-quarter passenger numbers.
World tourism improves with better economy
(SINGAPORE) International tourism demand is back on track after taking a hit during the recession last year, with growth driven largely by regions such as the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
36,000 visit Marina Bay IR in first 24hrs
(SINGAPORE) Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has revealed that 36,000 people visited the integrated resort (IR) in its first 24 hours of operations.
Rising sovereign debt will lead to inflation: Roubini
(LOS ANGELES) Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who forecast the US recession more than a year before it began, said sovereign debt from the US to Japan and Greece will lead to higher inflation or government defaults.
Strong growth puts Asia at risk of overheating: IMF
WHILE the European Union grapples with the risk of a contagious sovereign debt crisis and Japan with deflation, most Asian economies are growing at a rate where their very success is threatening them with problems of possible overheating and inflation, according to the International Monetary Fund.
High-flying support for Budding Artists Fund
WITH 12 children between them, four high-flying professionals who somehow also juggle side careers as artists have come together in support of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.
IT was a message awash with hope and a surprisingly gentle punchline.
Can Asia handle an airspace shutdown?
THE recent protracted closure of European airspace following a volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupted trade and caused significant financial and economic losses.
Drop the misguided bailout and let Greece go bust
GREECE cheated its way into the single-currency club, lied about its deficit for years, and now brings the shame of becoming the first junk-rated member after losing investment grade status at Standard & Poor’s this week.
How Asia keeps its capital flows in check
THE unfolding ‘Greek tragedy’, which has effectively robbed that country of access to private markets for sovereign debt and reduced Portugal’s access to credit, has for the moment overshadowed the drama on Wall Street
No cash? Pay via mobile phone
YOU win a bet, but the loser does not have enough cash on him to settle it. If he has a credit card, and most people usually do, there is finally a solution.
Wal-Mart reaches out to farmers in India
AT FIRST glance, the vegetable patches in the north Indian village of Haider Nagar look no different from the many small, spare farms that dot the country.
Q1 2010 net profit down 68 per cent on margin erosion. Straits Asia Resources Ltd (SAR) reported its Q1 2010 results with a 9.9 per cent y-o-y increase but a 34.1 per cent q-o-q decrease in revenue to US$153.5 million.
Euro rises on Greece bailout hopes
(NEW YORK) The euro rose yesterday, rebounding from a one-year low the previous day, on hopes a bailout plan for Greece was imminent and would help it avoid a debt restructuring.
Banks face 92b euro UK, Spain and Ireland loss, S&P says
(LONDON) Banks could lose as much as 92 billion euros (S$166 billion) from commercial real-estate loans in the UK, Spain and Ireland even after a rebound in property values, said Standard and Poor’s (S&P).
Drugmakers lift lid on emerging markets
(LONDON) Big drugmakers are revealing more details about where exactly they make their money in a bid to convince investors that much-hyped emerging markets really can deliver tomorrow’s growth.
Obama poised to name Yellen as Fed vice-chair
(WASHINGTON) Putting a bigger stamp on the central bank, President Barack Obama is set to name Janet Yellen as vice-chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and fill two other vacancies on the board, which has enormous power over Americans’ pocketbooks.
Waiting for Buffett’s take on Goldman Sachs
(NEW YORK) Warren Buffett, who called Goldman Sachs Group an ‘exceptional institution’ when he invested US$5 billion in the firm, will have his biggest platform to discuss the bank after it was sued for fraud by regulators and pilloried in Congress.
US finance reform battle begins in Senate
(WASHINGTON) Senate Republicans abandoned their efforts to block debate over legislation overhauling US financial rules, vowing instead to fight for changes to the bill on issues ranging from consumer protection to derivatives.
GE set to tap US$200b smart-meter market
(BANGALORE) General Electric is poised to tap the US$200 billion smart-meter market as nations upgrade more power meters to improve electricity use and lower costs.