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Thai Airways Appoints New President

Thailand's flag carrier has appointed a new president and the outlook of India's central bank for the country's economy remains bullish.

Thai Airways has named an ex-pilot as its new president. The appointment of 56-year old Apinan Sumanaseni ends an eight-month search for a new leader. Former president Kanok Abhiradee stepped down last August after the airline reported its worst-ever quarterly losses.

The new president faces the challenge of boosting Thai Airway's annual profit, as oil prices soar and the carrier faces intense competition from low-budget airlines.

But Apinan says he is optimistic, as the airline's performance this year has been good.

"This year we get a good profit from the balance sheet - so far," he said. "This is the beginning of the third quarter - the first two quarters we did really well."

In its latest quarterly review of the economy, the Reserve Bank of India predicts the Indian economy will continue to grow by 7.5 to eight percent this fiscal year, due to good industrial and services sector performance.

Global rating agency Standard and Poor's has raised India's credit rating outlook from stable to positive, citing greater efforts by the central and state governments to rein in fiscal deficit.

The combined national and state budget deficit is expected to fall below eight percent of gross domestic product this year, down from ten percent in 2002.

In other news from India, the country's third-largest software exporter, Wipro, posted a 43 percent increase in net profit for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which ended in March. The profit after tax for the whole fiscal year grew by 27 percent to $460 million.

The Bangalore-based company's growth was mainly powered by Wipro Technologies, its global IT services and products division.

And China's state-run oil company Sinopec has signed a $239 million deal with Brazilian energy company Petrobras to design, supply and build a gas pipeline in Brazil.

The 300-kilometer pipeline will have a daily capacity of 20 million cubic meters and connect gas fields in Rio de Janeiro state to the city of Vitoria farther north.