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Strike Cripples South Korea's Largest Automaker


An Australian mining giant has posted a record profit, while a strike has crippled operations of South Korea's largest automaker.

Resource group BHP Billiton has broken Australia's corporate profit record by posting a $6.5 billion full year profit.

The company said strong Chinese demand for minerals and record oil prices helped boost revenues 27.5 percent to $31 billion.

Chief executive Chip Goodyear says he expects commodity prices to eventually fall off from present highs. But he says demand from the developing world will continue to outstrip that of industrialized nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"We're seeing buoyant conditions in the emerging economies, in the developing economies around the world and this is offsetting a slight slowing in industrial production growth in OECD nations," he said.

In South Korea, thousands of workers at Hyundai Motors, the country's largest automaker, have gone on strike demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

The autoworkers' walkout follows a strike earlier this month by pilots of the country's second largest airline, Asiana. Hyundai Motors says the strike is costing millions of dollars a day.

In other automobile news, the U.S. car giant, General Motors' Australian subsidiary says it will cut 1,400 jobs at its assembly plant in south Australia. Holden GM's chairman says the adjustment is necessary because competition from Asian brands is "too fierce" and production costs are high.

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, whose interests run from ports to property, has reported a 10 percent profit growth in the first half of the year to $1.5 billion.

The company says it has narrowed losses in its mobile phone business, 3G. It also benefited from one-off gains from revaluation and sale of some assets.

Its Hong Kong property arm, Cheung Kong Holdings, saw profit jump more than 50 percent for the first six months to $1.3 billion.

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