Spanish inflation at 2.7pc

MADRID; Spanish inflation hit 2.7 per cent on a 12-month basis in April, provisional figures released by the national statistics institute INE showed. Confirmation of the figure, calculated according to the EU’s harmonised index of consumer prices, in mid-May would represent an increase of 0.5 percentage points from its equivalent in March, which was 2.2 per cent. — AFP

NZ, China mussel dispute

WELLINGTON: New Zealand officials are working closely with US Customs to try to halt Chinese mussel exports to the US which masquerade as unique New Zealand greenshell mussels. New Zealand officials have uncovered raw Chinese mussels packaged using the ‘greenshell’ trademark and in imitation New Zealand export boxes. The trademark applies solely to endemic New Zealand green shelled mussels. — AP

Chile, NZ trade deal

WELLINGTON: Chile will concentrate on free trade talks with New Zealand and Singapore now that it has concluded successful agreements with the US, the EU and South Korea, president Richard Lagos said . Lagos acknowledged that ‘special measures’ would have to be taken on the sensitive dairy sector but he was confident a trade deal would be signed. — AFP

Manufacturers bullish

SINGAPORE: Manufacturers in Singapore are increasingly confident business conditions will continue to improve through to September due to a reinvigorated global economy. A survey of 400 manufacturing firms by the Economic Development Board showed a net 39 per cent expected a robust business climate from April to September, up sharply from 20 per cent from the last poll carried out in the previous quarter. — AFP

LG’s investment plan

SEOUL: South Korea’s LG Electronics unveiled a $580 million investment plan to strenghten its global position in plasma display panels (PDP). LG said it would spend $580 million by the second quarter of next year to raise its monthly PDP production capacity to 285,000 modules from 165,000. LG aims to increase its global market share to 30 per cent by 2005. — AFP

Italian railways strike

ROME: About a third of Italian rail service is to be hit by a 24-hour strike starting Monday at 1900 GMT following a call for a work stoppage by the Sult union. The Trenitalia rail operator said two out of three trains will be running on long or mid-range lines and that high-speed Eurostar and Intercity lines would be unaffected by the strike. — AFP

Virus hits Finnish bank

HELSINKI: Sampo, Finland’s third largest bank, closed its 130 branch offices to prevent the Sasser Internet worm from infecting its systems. The Sasser bug has so far contaminated millions of computers worldwide, making them shut down and restart in an endless loop. “We decided to close our offices as a precaution, since we knew that our virus protection hadn’t been updated,” Sampo spokesmansaid. — AFP

Non-stop SIA flight to NY

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) will begin a non-stop service to New York in June, beating its own record for the world’s longest commercial flight. The flight to New York will take 18 hours in each direction, two hours longer than its current record-breaking non-stop service to Los Angeles, which was launched in February. — AFP