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China's Foreign Currency Reserves, Trade Surplus Set New Records


China's foreign currency reserves have reached one trillion dollars, as the country's trade surplus continues to set new records, and Australia's central bank has raised interest rates for the third time this year.

China's trade surplus with the rest of the world skyrocketed to a record $24 billion in October, as imports slowed and exports continued to be strong.

Analysts say the government's efforts to cool off a boom in construction and bank lending are the main reason imports have slowed down. Because of the controls, Chinese companies are buying less foreign factory equipment and other goods.

China's trade surplus in the first ten months of this year already surpassed the 12-month record set in 2005. Through October, exports exceeded imports by $134 billion. China's trade surplus for the whole of last year was $102 billion.

Foreign cash reserves held by China have now passed $1 trillion, bolstered in part by businessmen repatriating savings they had been holding overseas.

Australia's central bank has raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to a six-year high of 6.25 percent. This was the third rate increase this year.

Prime Minister John Howard, who promised to keep interest rates low when he was re-elected in 2004, defended the move as necessary to prevent serious inflation.

"I don't like this increase, but the alternative was for the Reserve Bank to sit on its hands and in some months' time face an even more difficult, challenging position, and finally act in a way that would cause a lot more pain to a lot more people," he said.

Japan's top automaker, Toyota, posted net income of $6.6 billion for the six months ending in September. This was an increase of more than 36 percent compared to the same period last year.

The jump was aided by strong sales in North America and Europe, which offset sluggish demand in Japan and other parts of Asia.

U.S. computer chipmaker Intel is preparing to raise its investment in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government licensed Intel in February to build a semiconductor facility outside Ho Chi Minh City, with an initial investment of $600 million. An amended license allows Intel to raise that investment as high as $1 billion, and increase the plant's production capacity.

The plant is due to be completed next year.

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