EU rates ‘appropriate’

BEIJING: European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet said that European interest rates are currently ‘appropriate’ and that any move, either up or down, could lead to higher lending costs. “We, as you know, left our interest rates unchanged in our last meeting and they are appropriate,” he said. — AFP

Apple opts for Intel

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Computer, for years a niche operator, took another step toward the market mainstream by abandoning IBM chips in favour of Intel ones to power its trendy Macintosh machines. Steve Jobs, CEO said that new Macs will come with Intel microprocessors ‘by this time next year’. — AFP

Aussie rates on hold

SYDNEY: The Reserve Bank of Australia left its cash rate unchanged at 5.5 per cent on Wednesday in response to growing signs of a slowing economy. The bank’s board held its monthly policy meeting and economists had universally expected it to leave rates on hold. — AFP

Money supply rises

TOKYO: Japan’s key money supply index rose by 1.5 per cent in May from a year earlier after growing 1.9 per cent in April. The May figure was below the average forecast of 1.9 per cent by 22 research and brokerage houses surveyed by the business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun. — AFP

Inflation stays steady

MANILA: The inflation rate in the Philippines was steady at 8.5 per cent in May, the same pace as in the previous three months. The May figure, which was within government expectations, brought the average inflation rate for the first five months to 8.4 per cent. — AFP

Siemens sells unit

MUNICH: German engineering giant Siemens announced that it had finally found a partner for its loss-making mobile phone handsets business in the form of Taiwan consumer electronics group BenQ. BenQ will acquire its entire mobile phone business. — AFP

China, Japan dispute

BEIJING: Senior central bankers from China and Japan said recent bilateral frictions were unlikely to have a major impact on economic ties between the two countries. “It’s mostly a historical problem. I don’t think it will have huge repercussions on the economy and trade,” People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan said. — AFP

Italian budget deficit

STRASBOURG: The EU head office was to decide whether to open proceedings against Italy after its budget deficit exceeded EU budget limit rules in 2003 and 2004. Italian finance minister Domenico Siniscalco has acknowledged that this year’s deficit would exceed the EU’s three per cent of GDP limit, but insisted it would remain below four per cent. — AP

Retail sales creep up

HONG KONG: Continued strong consumer confidence helped boost Hong Kong retail sales in April, when they rose by 8.5 per cent from a year earlier to $2.2 billion. In March, retail sales were up by 6.2 per cent in March. — AFP