Aussie rates ‘steady’

SYDNEY: Australia’s central bank indicated on Monday it will keep interest rates on hold at 5.5 per cent through 2005 because of ‘evenly balanced’ inflation. In its quarterly monetary policy statement, the Reserve Bank of Australia was upbeat about Australia’s economy and the inflationary outlook while removing its previous reference to interest rates likely rising. — AP

S’pore jobless rate up

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s jobless rate rose to 3.4 per cent in the second quarter, as the city-state’s job-hunting graduates joined its unemployment ranks. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly from a revised 3.3 per cent in the first quarter. Jobs in the Southeast Asian city-state of 4.2 million grew by 27,700 in the second quarter compared with 17,800 in the first quarter, with all major sectors seeing higher employment growth compared with the first three months of 2005. — AP

BoC may sell stakes

SHANGHAI: Bank of China (BoC), one of China’s four big state commercial lenders, is considering selling stakes that would total nearly a quarter, or $6 billion, of its equity. Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings will each take a 9.9 per cent stake. UBS AG and the Asian Development Bank will together hold a five per cent stake. — AP

Industrial output up

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s industrial output rose a lower-than-expected 3.4 per cent in June compared to the same month last year, buoyed by the manufacturing sector. Industrial production contracted by four per cent from May, underscoring a softening economy. The government has projected that Malaysia’s economy will grow between five per cent and six per cent this year, compared to 7.1 per cent in 2004. — AP

MUB taken over

YANGON: The state-run Myanma Economic Bank on Monday took over operations of the privately-owned Myanmar Universal Bank (MUB), though no public reason was offered. Sein Win, manager for the head branch of the Myanmar Universal Bank, confirmed the takeover but declined to say whether the bank has been liquidated or not. As of Monday, there was no public announcement of whether MUB’s banking license had been revoked. — AP

China airlines ink deal

SHANGHAI: Four Chinese airline companies have agreed to buy 42 Boeing 787 jets for a total $5.04 billion. China’s flag carrier Air China Ltd and China Eastern Airlines Corp will each buy 15 planes, Shanghai Airlines Co will buy nine planes, and Xiamen Airline Co will buy three planes. The purchase comes ahead of an expected visit by Chinese president Hu Jintao to the US in September and is a coup for Chicago-based Boeing over European archrival Airbus SAS. — AP

Asiana pilots strike

SEOUL: The South Korean government was running out of patience over a three-week long walkout by pilots at Asiana Airlines and would be forced to end the strike barring swift progress toward a solution. The government last week warned it was prepared to end the walkout at the country’s second-largest airline if no conclusion was reached this past weekend but softened its tone Sunday, raising expectations that a possible compromise was imminent. — AP