German inflation revised


Inflation in Germany averaged 1.6 per cent in 2004, its highest level in three years, with increased tobacco taxes pushing up the cost of living in the eurozone’s biggest economy at the end of the year. In December alone, the German consumer price index rose by 2.1 per cent on a 12-month basis. — AFP

Trade sentiment drops


Confidence in the Japanese economy worsened in December for the first time since March 2003. The current economic diffusion index fell to minus 19.7 from minus 10.4 in the previous survey in September, the first drop since March 2003 when the index lost 17.1 points. — AFP

EU, US settle aircraft row


Highlighting a more conciliatory mood the US and the EU agreed to try to amicably settle the decades-old trade dispute over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing. The decision to defer pursuing complaints with the WTO while the governments negotiate in sharp contrast to the campaign rhetoric in October, when Bush challenged the 25-nation EU before the world trade body and the EU threatened to retaliate. — AP

Consumer confidence up


Australian consumer confidence rose to its highest level in more than a decade in January as households began the New Year on an optimistic note. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose by 4.2 per cent in January to 123.5 points, from 118.5 in December. — AFP

Airbus, Air China in talks


European aerospace giant Airbus on Wednesday said it is in talks to sell an unspecified number of 330-200 jetliners to mainland flagcarrier Air China. “We are in discussions with Air China on the A330-200 aircraft,” said Gu Ming, an Airbus China company spokesman said. — AFP

‘Privatise oil interests’


In a vivid sign of growing high-level dissension with government policies, Russia’s economic development minister said that state-controlled companies were holding the country back and suggested the government privatise a giant oil producer it recently wrested from Yukos company. — AP

UK interest rate steady


Despite signs of a poor Christmas for British retailers, the Bank of England (BoE) will likely refrain on Thursday from cutting interest rates from the current level of 4.75 per cent. All 30 forecasters predicted the BoE’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee would keep borrowing costs unchanged for the fifth successive month following a raft of weak economic data, particularly in the housing market. — AFP

Italian public deficit dips


Italy’s public deficit shrank to 3.8 per cent of gross domestic product in third quarter 2004 from 4.4 per cent in the same period of 2003. But in the first nine months of last year the public deficit, which reflects the national and regional budgets as well as social welfare accounts, widened to 3.6 per cent of output from 2.6 per cent in the January-September period of 2003. — AFP

Doosan buys Daewoo


South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries Construction Co on Wednesday signed a deal to take over the country’s leading defence and construction equipment maker, Daewoo Heavy Industries Machinery Ltd. Doosan Heavy will pay $1.8 billion to acquire a controlling 51 per cent stake. — AFP