Oil prices ease

LONDON: Oil prices eased on Monday after crude hit $40 per barrel in New York last week for the first time in more than 13 years on fears of terrorist strikes in the Middle East and US petrol shortages. The price of benchmark Brent North Sea crude for June delivery fell to $36.60 in early London trading. New York’s reference light sweet crude for June delivery fell to $39.70 in pre-opening electronic deals. — AFP

China to fight inflation

BEIJING: Local Chinese authorities would be required to suspend projects that might raise consumer prices under new controls meant to prevent a jump in inflation amid surging economic growth. The measures announced on Sunday on a government Web site would take effect in areas where local inflation rates exceed official targets. China reported inflation at a modest 2.8 per cent in the first three months of this year. But officials worry that surging economic growth could ignite inflation. — AP

Wholesale prices up in UK

LONDON: British wholesale prices, or the cost of goods at the factory gate, rose by 0.3 per cent in April from March. Prices showed a gain of 1.8 per cent in April compared with the figure a year earlier. The rises, driven by higher prices in tobacco, alcohol and petroleum products, beat analysts’ forecasts, which bet on a month-on-month rise of 0.2 per cent and annual rise of 1.6 per cent. — AFP

Potato farmers hit in US

PASCO: From low prices to mad cow disease, low-carbohydrate diets to the demise of the McDonald’s Supersize menu, 2004 isn’t shaping up as a good year for the US potato farmer. Ed Schneider has quit buying farm chemicals locally to save money, and he started his own seed company to eliminate another big expense for his 360 hectare potato farm in southeast Washington. — AP

S’pore plans LNG terminal

SINGAPORE: The Singapore government said on Monday it is considering building the city-state’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal as a way of meeting its long-term power needs. The Ministry of Trade and Industry said a feasibility study to be commissioned over the next two months will determine the project’s viability. — AFP

Australian budget plans

CANBERRA: Australia’s government, a staunch US ally, is expected to unveil big spending increases to fight the war on terror on Tuesday as part of its final budget before facing voters later this year. Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative coalition is likely to use a big budget surplus to cut taxes as it tries to convince voters it is the best manager of Australia’s economy and security. — AP

More air traffic at Changi

SINGAPORE: Passenger traffic at Singapore’s Changi airport more than doubled in April compared with a year ago, rounding off the aviation hub’s recovery from the SARS crisis. Passenger traffic rose by 102.9 per cent to 2.37 million in April from 1.17 million in the same period last year. Cargo traffic last month was 9.9 per cent higher at 142,000 tonnes. — AFP

Danish inflation lowest

COPENHAGEN: Danish consumer prices in April rose by 0.8 per cent compared to the figure for the same month in 2003, showing along with its March numbers the lowest 12-month inflation since the 1950s. Consumer prices in April ticked only by 0.1 per cent higher than in March. — AFP