N, S Korea trade rises

SEOUL: Trade between North and South Korea in the first half of 2005 amounted to $454.1 million, a 39.5 per cent increase over the same period last year. The increase was predominantly driven by the new industrial complex in the city of Kaesong, just north of the border, which accounted for 17.3 per cent of the total. — AP

NZ trade deficit high

WELLINGTON: Soaring oil prices and slowing exports combined to give New Zealand its worst annual trade deficit on record. The annual deficit in the year ending on June 30 was $3.5 billion. It compared with the previous worst deficit of $3.4 billion in the year ending on May 30, and $2.4 billion in the year ending in June 2004. — AP

RBS, BoC ink pact

HONG KONG: Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group PLC has signed a nonbinding agreement to take a 15 per cent stake in the Bank of China (BoC), one of China’s major state-owned banks, and is close to a final deal. BoC hopes to complete a deal by early August. — AP

Australian CPI rises

SYDNEY: Consumer prices in Australia rose a less-than-expected 0.6 per cent in April-June from the previous quarter, leading to expectations that the central bank would not raise interest rates any time soon. The CPI also rose by 2.5 per cent from a year earlier. — AP

BoJ keeps MP steady

TOKYO: Japan’s central bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy (MP) unchanged amid lingering concerns about the fragility of the country’s recovering economy. The BoJ has kept interest rates at zero for four years and has flooded the financial markets with ample cash in an effort to encourage a rebound in the world’s second-largest economy after a decade of stagnation. — AP