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Asia Business: The Week Ahead - 2004-04-12


An Australian media empire is heading north, and China's auto industry plans to step on the gas.

Australian media titan News Corp surprised many investors by announcing it plans to become a U.S. company by the end of the year.

News Corp plans to move its primary share listing from Sydney to the New York Stock Exchange. Company executives say the move will increase News Corp's shareholder base and stimulate interest in its shares.

News Corp founder and Chairman Rupert Murdoch says logistical factors prevented the company from making the move earlier. "It wasn't possible from a tax point of view until four years ago," he says. "We've really only got around to it in the last six months."

News Corp's share price surged on the announcement. The proposed move must still be approved by investors and regulatory authorities. Among other things, the company owns the Star TV network in Asia, the Fox television network in the United States and major newspapers in Britain and Australia.

South Korea's government says consumer confidence there has fallen for the second month in a row.

The country's Consumer Expectation Index fell in March by nearly two points from February, to 94.4. Any index rating below 100 indicates the number of pessimistic households is greater than the number of optimistic ones.

Analysts say rising consumer prices and a lack of new jobs is fueling the decline.

South Korea's Central Bank says it is doing what it can to boost domestic demand. The bank left its key interest rate unchanged for April at 3.75 percent, for the ninth consecutive month.

China has announced a plan to accelerate its automotive exports. China exported less than $5 billion worth of automotive goods in 2003.

By 2010, Chinese authorities say they believe the country will be exporting between $70 billion and $100 billion worth of cars and car parts. They say the dramatic increase will kick in as more and more international car companies shift production facilities to China.

China's government says it will reveal what it calls a "slew of steps" to make the country an even more favorable base of automotive production.

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