China’s economy expands

SHANGHAI: China’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 9.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, the government said on Monday, revising a preliminary estimate that put GDP growth at 9.7 per cent. The revision in gross domestic product data showed the economy was expanding even faster than earlier feared. Near 10 per cent growth has raised fears inflation could soar, triggering a financial crisis. — AP

Current account surplus

TOKYO: Japan’s current account surplus rose 13.1 per cent in March from a year earlier, with government figures released on Monday showing export growth continues to fuel the country’s economy. The finance ministry said the surplus in the current account — a broad measure of trade, tourism and investment flows — rose to 1.83 trillion yen ($16.05 billion) before seasonal adjustments. — AP

Siemens to invest 1b euros

SHANGHAI: German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said on Monday it plans to pump another one billion euros into China as it moves to take advantage of business opportunities in the world’s fastest growing economy. The company, which has already invested more than 5.4 billion euros in China in a range of joint ventures such as mobile handsets, energy and transport, plans to double its number of regional offices to 60 from 28. — AFP

S’pore exports boosted

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s non-oil exports rose 15.1 per cent last month from a year earlier on strong shipments of semiconductors, the government said on Monday. Non-oil exports, a key barometer of Singapore’s economic health, rose to 10.47 billion Singapore dollars (US$6 billion) in April, said International Enterprise Singapore, the government trade agency. — AP

Less millionaires in Japan

TOKYO: The list of Japanese millionaires got shorter in the past year to March, when the domestic economy was staggering initially before making a firm recovery, government data showed on Monday. The National Tax Agency said 73,959 people paid more than 10 million yen ($87,300) in personal income tax in the fiscal year, about 1,400 fewer than in the previous year. — AFP

EU, Germany budget row

FRANKFURT: The risk that Germany will breach the EU’s strict budget rules for the fourth year in a row next year is increasing, the Bundesbank’s chief economist Hermann Remsperger said in a newspaper interview on Monday. On the basis of the German government’s latest tax estimates, published last Thursday, “the risk has increased” that the German public deficit will exceed 3.0 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), thereby breaching the Stability and Growth Pact. — AFP

BA profits soar by 70pc

LONDON: British Airways reported on Monday a 70 per cent jump in annual pre-tax profits as cost cuts and a gradual recovery in passenger numbers more than offset rising fuel costs. BA posted a pre-tax profit of 230 million pounds (339 million euros, $406 million) for the 12 months to March 31, against a profit of 135 million pounds in the previous financial year. Revenue fell by 1.7 per cent reflecting the impact of the war in Iraq, the SARS virus and economic weakness in the first half of the year, BA said. — AP