US deficit to increase:

WASHINGTON: The US budget deficit is likely to hit a record $427 billion in fiscal 2005, going deeper into the red as a result of a special funding request for Iraq and the war on terrorism, new estimates showed on Tuesday. Senior Bush administration officials disclosed the latest deficit estimate as they outlined their special $80-billion request for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere as part of the global war on terror. — AFP

S Korean FI in China tops:

SEOUL: China was the biggest recipient of South Korean foreign investment for the third straight year in 2004, topping the United States, the government said on Wednesday. China attracted nearly half the total overseas investment by South Korean firms, or $3.6 billion (euro2.8 billion), last year, the ministry of finance and economy said in a report. — AP

$10m for Tsunami disaster:

ISTANBUL: Urged to be generous by prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a group of prominent Turkish businessmen has pledged $10 million (7.7 million euros) for tsunami disaster relief in south Asia, the premier’s office said on Wednesday. “Turkey must not remain behind Greece” in the amount of aid given, Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. — AFP

Turkey’s tourism bounty:

ANKARA: Turkey earned $15.9 billion from its booming tourism sector in 2004, a year which saw a record number of foreigners visiting the country, the state statistics institute said on Wednesday. The figure represents a 32.5 per cent increase from tourism revenues in 2003. Foreign visitors spent $12.1 billion in the country last year, while local tourists contributed another $3.8 billion to the sector, the institute said. — AFP

Thomson work in India:

PARIS: French electronics group Thomson, which has been divesting its consumer goods businesses, is transferring production of cathode ray tubes for television sets to Indian firm Videocon, the French company said on Wednesday. The move was part of a joint venture deal with the Indian consumer electronics and appliances group, under which the Thomson’s TV tube production would be transferred from Anagni central Italy to India. — AFP

Business confidence rises:

MUNICH: German business confidence improved slightly in January, confirming the sharp increase seen the previous month, a key survey showed on Wednesday. The widely watched business climate index, calculated each month by the Ifo economic research institute, edged up to 96.4 points in January, its highest level in 11 months. The barometer had already risen sharply by 2.1 points to 96.2 points in December. — AFP

Industrial output up:

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s already strong economic numbers for 2004 got an unexpected fillip on Wednesday with the release of government data showing industrial output climbed 31.7 per cent in December. The December performance outstripped analyst forecasts for a 7.1-8.6 per cent year-on-year expansion and the government’s preliminary estimate of 9.5 per cent, thanks largely to biomedical sector output growing 285 per cent.— AFP