Current account surplus

FRANKFURT: The eurozone’s current account surplus was steady in March from the figure for February. The eurozone current account surplus amounted to $6.2 billion in March, compared with a surplus in February. This was the result of an increase in the goods surplus and a decrease in the deficit on current transfers being counterbalanced by a higher income deficit and a lower services surplus. — AFP

Japan’s trade surplus up

TOKYO: Japan’s trade surplus expanded for the tenth consecutive month in April due to surging exports to China, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, highlighting the lift that the world’s second largest economy receives from its neighbours. The merchandise trade surplus - the measure of all goods exported minus those imported - surged by 30.3 per cent to $9.63 billion from the same month a year earlier. — AP

India’s exports shoot up

NEW DELHI: The 2004-05 fiscal has begun on an upbeat note for India with exports rising by 19.95 per cent in April over the same period last year. Exports during the fiscal 2004-05 rose to $5.01 billion in April, which is 19.95 per cent higher than the level of $4.18 billion during April 2003. Belying fears of appreciating rupee pulling down overseas trade, Indian exports notched 17.26 per cent growth in 2003-04 to cross $61 billion. — HNS

Jobless rate rises in Brazil

SAO PAULO: Brazil’s unemployment rate rose to 13.1 per cent in April, the highest level since president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office. The unemployment rate rose from 12.8 per cent in March. It is now at its highest level since the IBGE started the survey in October, 2001. Silva assumed the presidency in January 2003, pledging to create millions of new jobs and ease the misery of more than 40 million citizens. — AP

Vietnam trade deficit dips

HANOI: Vietnam’s trade deficit hit $1.96 billion in the first five months of the year. Exports during the period rose by 17.4 per cent to $9.55 billion, while imports increased by 13 per cent to $11.51 billion. Cotton imports saw the sharpest gain, up by 101.5 per cent in the first five months to $83 million. Fabric imports rose by 36.7 per cent to $783 million. — AFP

Vodafone’s payment vow

LONDON: Vodafone pledged to return 3.0 billion Sterling Pounds to shareholders on Tuesday and launched a 2.6 billion Sterling Pounds buyout of its struggling Japanese business, but shares in the mobile phone operator sank as investors fretted about its deal-making ambitions. The firm planned to spend 3.0 billion Sterling Pounds buying back shares and raised its dividend 20 per cent. — The Guardian

Crackdown on net piracy

ROME: The Italian Parliament has passed a law to fight Internet piracy, with punishment as stiff as three years in prison, making Italy’s crackdown one of the toughest around the world. The law, which went into effect from Friday, provides for a maximum penalty of three years in jail for those convicted of using the Web illegally for commercial purposes - to download products they have not paid for and want to make money from or to sell products whose rights they don’t hold. — AP

Indonesian budget deficit

JAKARTA: High global oil prices may widen Indonesia’s budget deficit this year. Indonesia became a net crude importer for the first time in March, undermining its role as Asia’s only member of the OPEC and making the country vulnerable to the current spike in oil prices to 14-year highs. — AP