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Australia's Prime Minister Unveils Plan to Attack Inflation


Australia's government has declared war on inflation, while the country's oldest news magazine has shut down after more than a century. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has these and other stories in our weekly roundup of business news from the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has unveiled a five-point economic plan to help tackle inflation. A key component of the plan is to cut government spending to achieve a budget surplus of at least 1.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The plan also provides for incentives to encourage private savings, and for dealing with skills shortages in the labor market and infrastructure bottlenecks.

Australia's inflation rate reached a 16-year high in the fourth quarter, hitting 3.6 percent.

Mr. Rudd calls inflation the most pressing domestic challenge to the economy, and says fiscal restraint is at the core of his plan.

"By exercising restraint, our plan aims to do everything it can to ease the pressure on inflation and interest rates, and for the longer term we have a plan to deal with the chronic investment deficits in the capacity side of the economy in skills and infrastructure," he said.

In other news from Australia, the country's oldest and best-known weekly news magazine, the Bulletin, ceased publication after more than 120 years due to dwindling sales. Circulation fell to an average of 57,000 issues a week in September 2007, half the number the magazine sold in the mid-1990's.

The Bulletin's publisher said the situation was consistent with that experienced by many news magazines globally, as they deal with competition from the Internet.

Japanese game maker Nintendo's profit for the first three-quarters of the fiscal year nearly doubled from the previous year, mainly due to strong global sales of its hugely popular Wii game consoles. Profit totaled more than $2.4 billion in the nine months to December. Nintendo has sold more than 20 million Wii machines worldwide since it introduced them in December 2006.

Beijing's famous "Silk Street" market is famous for offering knock-off designer and brand-name goods. The market has now unveiled its own brand, Silkstreet - and warned that anyone who tries to counterfeit the brand will be held liable.

Items bearing the new brand name include neckties, shirts and scarves. They will be sold exclusively in the market they are named after.

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