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S. Korea Moves to Cool Property Market; China Oil Company Sees Record Profit


South Korea moves to curb speculation in the property market and reign in housing prices, while in China, rising oil prices mean surging profits for one of the country's largest oil companies.

South Korea has announced measures to cool its overheating property market, including an across-the-board 50 percent capital gains tax on the sale of certain homes. The moves, which still require approval by the National Assembly, come as housing prices in South Korea continue to rise, more than 20 percent in some areas.

Market analysts say the housing sector is caught up in a dangerous bubble and prices could crash in the near future.

The minister of finance and economy, Han Duk Soo, says the measures are intended to curb speculation. He says the new measures should stabilize the market and get it back on track.

Rising oil prices are causing new headaches for Indonesia, where the rupiah has weakened sharply in value because the government has to spend more of its budget on oil subsidies. The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's downgraded its outlook on Indonesia's credit to stable, from positive.

The agency said the Indonesian's government apparent inability to stem the rupiah's fall and reduce its oil subsidies to consumers led to the downgrade. A lower credit rating means that Indonesia may have to pay more interest to borrow on international markets.

In China, however, the surging price of oil is producing record profits for the country's oil companies. China National Offshore Oil Corporation reported that net profit rose nearly 69 percent in the first half of the year.

The company, known as CNOOC, said net profit topped $1.5 billion.

Earlier this year CNOOC withdrew a takeover bid for California-based Unocal Corporation. Some U.S. politicians had vowed to block the deal because of security concerns, including the transfer of sensitive technology to China.

CNOOC's chief executive has said the company has no plans for alternative acquisitions.

India's largest bank says it plans to expand its overseas operations and buy at least two small or medium sized banks in Africa and Asia.

The government-run State Bank of India has assets totaling over $100-billion and covers a quarter of all banking transactions in India.

The bank's chairman, A.K. Purwar, told reporters the new acquisitions should be completed within the next few months.

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