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Malaysia Eases Rules on Islamic Banking


Malaysia will ease rules on Islamic banking, while increased mobile phone use in rural China boosts profit for the world's largest mobile phone operator. VOA's Heda Bayron has this week's summary of business news in the Asia-Pacific region from Hong Kong.

Malaysia's central bank says it will start allowing all banks in the country to do Islamic banking business in foreign currencies. At present, only Islamic banks are allowed to do such transactions.

Muslim-dominated Malaysia has the world's largest Islamic bond market, accounting for about two thirds of total outstanding Islamic bonds worldwide. Islamic banking prohibits earnings from interest rates and investments in alcohol, gambling and other activities forbidden by the Koran.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country's second largest lender, reported an 18 percent jump in profit to $2 billion for the year ending in June. Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris announced the results.

"All our businesses performed well, with banking, funds management, insurance all delivering double digit growth," he said.

Norris assured investors the bank has no exposure to the U.S. sub-prime loan crisis that has been roiling global financial markets.

Another Australian company seeing profit gains is Qantas Airways. Full-year profit for Australia's largest airline rose 50 percent to $590 million.

And in telecommunications, China Mobile says profit in the six months ending in June surged nearly 26 percent to $5 billion from the same period last year. The company says it continued to attract new subscribers, particularly in China's rural areas. Revenue from value-added features such as mobile music, news and information services jumped 36 percent.

China Mobile has more than 332 million users, making it the world's largest mobile phone operator in terms of subscribers.

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