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Singapore, Japan Report Economic Growth


Japan and Singapore post strong economic growth in the first half of the year. And the popular American doughnut company, Krispy Kreme, opens its first store in China.

Singapore's economy grew 9.4 percent in the first six months of the year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says growth for the full year could be between 6.5 to 7.5 percent - higher than previous estimates.

"After the past few years upgrading and restructuring our economy, Singapore is in a much stronger position than before. Our strategies are working and our economy is growing and creating jobs," Lee said.

He said about 81,000 jobs were generated in the first six months of 2006 - the highest number in a decade.

The Japanese economy expanded 0.2 percent in the three months ending in June.

The government says the weaker than expected quarterly growth was due to a slowdown in exports to the United States and in public spending.

While the increase may appear marginal however, it represents the sixth straight quarter of economic growth - keeping steady Japan's recovery from years of stagnation.

In South Korea, inflation fears prompted the central bank to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percent to 4.5 percent.

In aviation news, Air China has scaled back the size of its share offering because of weak demand from big investors. The company will now offer 1.6 billion shares from the 2.7 billion shares originally planned. But Chinese state media say the portion of shares allocated to small investors in China has been oversold. The company aims to raise $576 million when it lists in Shanghai on August 22.

The popular American doughnut chain, Krispy Kreme, has opened its first branch in China. The store in Hong Kong is Krispy Kreme's first step into the huge China market and part of its expansion plan in the Asia-Pacific region. Krispy Kreme has already opened branches in South Korea and Australia.

The Philippines' largest food and beverage company, San Miguel, says good earnings from its investments in Australia helped boost profit 15 percent to $85 million in the first half compared to the same period last year. San Miguel acquired one of Australia's largest food company, National Foods, in April.