Iraq inflation at 70pc

BAGHDAD: Iraqi inflation hit an average of 70 per cent last year, largely due to soaring fuel prices, a central bank source told AFP on Sunday. The government had set an inflation target of 20-25 per cent for 2006. But the consumer price index jumped by more than 70 per cent, while the cost of petroleum products and electricity spiked by more than 80 per cent, the source said. When volatile energy prices were stripped out, inflation came to between 30 and 35 per cent.—AFP

China’s trade surplus

BEIJING: China’s trade surplus with the European Union soared 31 per cent last year, state media reported Sunday, citing government figures. China posted a trade surplus with the EU of 91.7 billion dollars in 2006, compared with 70.1 billion dollars the year before, the Xinhua news agency said, quoting ministry of commerce data. The bloc remained China’s top trading partner last year, accounting for 15.5 per cent of the Asian nation’s commerce with the outside world, according to Xinhua.—AFP

Fed rates to be on hold

WASHINGTON: After a surprising show of strength in the US economy, the Federal Reserve is likely to keep interest rates steady at its upcoming monetary policy meeting to see if the trend continues, analysts say. The Federal Open Market Committee, which meets Wednesday, is widely expected to keep its base rate at 5.25 per cent, where it has been since August, when the panel halted a series of 17 consecutive quarter-point increases to stem inflation. In addition, the central bank is likely to maintain its warning or “bias” toward another rate increase, which analysts say is aimed at keeping inflation expectations in check.—AFP

Lankan spending

Galle: Sri Lanka’s key international donors will meet in the southern city of Galle on Monday, amid rising concerns that the cash may not be well spent. Escalating violence, allegations of widespread corruption in the disbursement of international aid and its overall economic management could hurt the island’s prospects of attracting more support, diplomats said. “A bigger government (cabinet of ministers) and the military taking a hardline stand could overshadow the development agenda,” said a western diplomat attending the two-day review by 50 donor nations and lenders. Sri Lanka plans to convert 1.5 billion dollars in aid pledges received for this year’s development work into firm commitments during the talks in this southern coastal town that was hit by the December 2004 tsunami. —AFP

Proton talks with VW

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said troubled carmaker Proton and German giant Volkswagen AG are in negotiations, but declined to give details of the deal, a report said Sunday. “I don’t want to comment because it is being negotiated,” Abdullah was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times. Reports last week said Volkswagen had agreed to buy a controlling stake in Proton’s manufacturing division — news which sent Proton shares up 13.14 per cent on Friday to 7.75 ringgit (2.21 dollars)—AFP

BF Dear Hill’s scheme

KATHMANDU: Base Footwear Pvt Ltd has floated a new scheme for its brand ‘BF Dear Hill’ shoes on the occasion of fourth Leather Goods and Footwear Expo. Under the scheme, customers will get a cap free and 10 per cent cash discount on every purchase of BF Dear Hill brand shoes and sandals during the event, states a press release issued today. — HNS

Electricity extension

BAGLUNG: Electrification has been extended in Hatiya VDC of Galkot in Baglung with private investment. Electrification was extended to some 846 households of Ward no 3 to 8. Dinanath Dahal, chief of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), Baglung inaugurated the project. Tek Bahadur Khatri, chairman of electricity extension committee said that electrification will be completed within this FY.— RSS