US rates to keep rising

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve policy-makers suggested at their December meeting that they would continue to push short-term interest rates higher to blunt the risk of an inflation flare-up. At the Fed’s meeting, policy-makers boosted the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point. — AP

Manufacturing growth

SINGAPORE: A key index released on Wednesday showed Singapore’s key manufacturing sector grew at a faster pace in December as orders and production increased. The forward-looking Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 51.8 points in December, up by 1.5 points from November. — AFP

P’pine inflation hits 6pc

MANILA: Consumer prices in the Philippines shot up by 8.6 per cent in December, bringing the 2004 average inflation rate to six sic per cent, topping official forecasts and raising the possibility of higher interest rates. The 2004 figure exceeded government forecasts. The source would not disclose what those forecasts were. — AFP

Consumer prices up

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s consumer prices rose by 1.62 per cent year-on-year in December due to higher fruit, meat and oil costs. The figure was a seasonally-adjusted 0.3 per cent rise from November. For the whole of 2004, inflation was also up by 1.62 percent. — AFP

Czech posts trade surplus

PRAGUE: The Czech Republic posted a foreign trade surplus of $227 million in November, its first in 10 years for the month. The result was driven by record growth in exports of cars and electrical engineering products. In November, also it had a trade deficit. — AFP

Hutchison to cut 750 jobs

HONG KONG: Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa said on Wednesday it will cut 750 jobs at its mobile telephone business in a bid to trim the company’s operating costs and generate savings. — AFP

Trade surplus in Brazil

SAO PAULO: Brazil racked up its biggest trade surplus in history last year, but the country’s export boom of everything from soybeans to automobiles is expected to ease in 2005. South America’s largest economy sent $96.5 billion of goods abroad in 2004 while importing $62.8 billion, giving Brazil a trade surplus of $33.7 billion that eclipsed the previous record of $24.8 billion. — AP

Consumer prices rise

ROME: Italian consumer prices rose by 2.2 per cent in 2004 from the figure for the previous year, marking the lowest increase since 1999. In 2003, the consumer prices had risen by 2.5 per cent. In December 2004, consumer prices rose by 0.2 per cent from November, bringing the rate over one year to two per cent in December 2003. — AFP

French economy stalls

PARIS: The French economy stalled in the third quarter compared to performance in the previous quarter. That compared with a quarterly growth rate of 0.6 per cent in the second quarter. The third quarter reading — the third estimate for third-quarter French GDP — fell short of most analysts’ forecasts for a rise of 0.1 per cent. — AFP

Money supply growth

BEIJING: China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, is expected to set a money supply growth target of 15 per cent in 2005. This year’s target has been reduced from 2004’s 17 per cent and is likely to come in close to the actual M2 growth level seen last year. — AFP