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High Oil Costs Cut Profit for China's National Carrier

For the first half of the year, Chinese national flag carrier Air China looked in good shape. Passenger revenue rose nearly 15 percent while cargo and mail services income jumped 21 percent. But that was not enough to offset rising fuel costs. Air China says its profit for the first half of this year slumped 25 percent to $73 million.

Air China is among the latest Asian airlines to see profit decline because of a rising fuel bill. Ma Xulun, Air China's president, says that considering the oil situation and increased competition, the results are still good.

"The operating cost went up by 19.7 percent resulted in a decrease in operating income compared to the same period last year," said Mr. Ma. "However, among the players in the domestic market, Air China was the most profitable."

Also feeling the crunch are consumers in some parts of Asia. In South Korea, consumer confidence in August fell for the fifth consecutive month. Officials say high oil costs and South Korea's sluggish economic are to blame.

But in Hong Kong, consumers appear upbeat. Strong consumer confidence boosted retail sales nearly eight percent for the first seven months of the year. The opening Monday of the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park is expected to further fuel consumer spending in the territory.

In Australia, five major record companies scored a victory against an online music file-sharing network over copyright laws infringement. The network, Kazaa, was ordered to modify its software to stop further sharing of copyrighted digital music files over the Internet and to pay damages to the record companies.