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Wal-Mart Wants to Open Stores in India


The National Australia Bank, the country's largest, says it will cut 4,200 jobs worldwide. About half of the layoffs will come from Australia. Chief executive John Stewart says the bank made the move to stay competitive.

"Some of our businesses were still losing market share and reducing profit. We have to stabilize our businesses, which we think we've done. We have a sound re-building capability. And then we can become truly competitive as a bank," he said.

The bank's branches in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo will remain open. The announcement came as the bank unveiled a 17 percent increase in profit from October to March, rising to $2 billion.

In other news, the world's largest retailer wants to open branches in India. John Menzer, head of Wal-Mart International, has met with Indian President Manmohan Singh to discuss opening a branch there. At present, Wal-Mart only has branches in two Asian countries: South Korea and China. But it buys about $1 billion worth of products from India.

The U.S. online search engine Google has started hiring in China in an effort to raise its profile in that market. Google already owns a stake in a Chinese search engine called Baidu.com. China has the second highest number of Internet users in the world after the United States.

In the Philippines, the government's long-delayed tax reform package has finally passed in Congress after months of political wrangling. The measure raises corporate income tax to 35 percent. In addition, it grants the president authority to increase value added tax up to 12 percent next year if tax collection falls below target or if the budget deficit exceeds more than one and a half percent of gross domestic product.

The government hopes to increase revenues to cover its huge budget deficit, estimated to reach more than $3 billion this year.

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