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Strong Global Sales Boost Toyota's Profit

Stronger vehicle sales has boosted profits at Japan's top automaker, while demand has weakened for new share offerings in India. VOA's Heda Bayron has the details in our weekly summary of the top business news in the Asia-Pacific.

Japan's Toyota Motors Corporation says profit in the three months ending in December jumped seven and a half percent from the same period the previous year because of strong vehicle sales around the world.

Sales in Asia, excluding Japan, jumped more than 18 percent, while sales in the Middle East, South Africa and Australia surged 28 percent.

Takahiro Ijichi, Toyota's managing officer, says net profit for the quarter reached a record high of $4.29 billion.

"Despite severe conditions in the business environment, including the appreciation of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar, we achieved a record high third quarter results in every item, from net revenue to net income," he said.

After a series of blockbuster initial public offerings, or IPOs, investor appetite for new share offerings in India may be souring. Developer Emaar MGF Land has withdrawn its $1.6 billion IPO because of what the company says are adverse market conditions brought about by fears of a U.S. recession. The company had extended its sale period and cut its offer price twice in the hope of attracting investors.

Wockhardt Hospital has also abandoned its $165 million IPO because of a lack of investor interest. India's benchmark Sensex index has fallen about 17 percent since January.

Australia's central bank has raised interest rates to seven percent - the highest in 12 years. The bank says it lifted rates because prices are going up. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says fighting inflation is his government's top priority.

"We have now seen, for a long period of time, inflationary pressures building in the Australian economy," said Mr. Rudd. "Truth is, inflation in the last quarter of last year was running at the highest rate in 16 years. Turning to the future, it means that we have a really tough job ahead."

Australia is in its 16th year of economic growth.