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US Cosmetics Giant Closes Indonesia Operations


A U.S. cosmetics company has closed shop in Indonesia, while income for one of the world's most profitable airlines falls.

In Indonesia the U.S. cosmetics direct seller Avon says it will close its business immediately after suffering millions of dollars in losses in recent years.

Avon says Indonesia - Southeast Asia's biggest country - has long-term market potential but at this time, the company is not prepared to make further investments there. Avon did not explain why the Indonesia business was not profitable.

The company will also shut down its manufacturing plant in Jakarta and lay off 600 employees.

Singapore Airlines - one the world's most profitable carriers - says profit fell in the three months ending in December because of high fuel costs. Profit decreased 15 percent to $243 million from the same period in 2004.

While high fuel prices continue to be a concern, the airline says the outlook for air travel this year is encouraging. On February 1, Singapore Airlines started a three times weekly service to the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore from Singapore. Later this year, it will be the first to fly the super-jumbo Airbus A380-800 plane.

In other news, Telecom New Zealand's troubled businesses in Australia have undermined strong domestic performance, resulting in a net loss for the company of $319 million in the six months ending in December.

Revenue in Australia declined 8.5 percent. But strong demand for mobile, broadband and Internet, and information technology services pushed the company's New Zealand revenues up 5.5 percent. And chief executive officer Theresa Gattung says the company is expanding in many areas, despite the loss.

"There's been quite a talk about a slowing economy but in fact we're struggling with recruitment, getting enough skilled people to drive our areas of growth," she said.

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto's profit surged 58 percent last year to $5.2 billion. The company says high commodity prices, record production and strong demand from China boosted earnings.

Rio Tinto says it plans more investments in the next two years in iron ore, industrial minerals, and diamond and copper production.

The company also announced that its subsidiary, Coal and Allied Industries, has won an 18-month contract to supply more than four million tons of thermal coal to Mexico.