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India's IT Companies Report Strong Growth

One of India's leading information technology companies reports strong profit growth, while Japanese consumer confidence drops to a record low. Heda Bayron has this week's summary of business news in Asia from Hong Kong.

Infosys Technologies says profit rose 21 percent to $303 million for the quarter ending in June from the same period a year ago.

The Bangalore I.T. outsourcing company says it added 49 clients during the period, despite a tough business environment because of financial troubles in its major market - the United States.

"There are sporadic requests for changes in contract," said S. Gopalakrishnan, the company's chief executive officer. "But generally the pricing environment is stableā€¦. Although the economic environment continues to be uncertain, and could impact IT spending in the short term, we see opportunities for growth."

The company expects revenue to grow by more t han 29 percent for the fiscal year.

China's Sinosteel has acquired a majority stake in the Australian iron ore miner Midwest for $1.3 billion. Sinosteel prevailed over a rival bid by Australian miner Murchison Metals and initial opposition from Midwest's board.

This is the latest in a series of recent deals involving Chinese state-owned companies buying stakes in mining companies overseas to ensure a steady supply of resources.

High gas and food prices have pushed consumer confidence in Japan to its worst level in 26 years.

The government says the sentiment index dropped to 32.6 last month from 33.9 in May. It was the lowest since the government began compiling the figures in 1982.

Consumption accounts for more than half of the economy, and some analysts expect the economy to slow as result.

Japan has suffered years of deflation. But now, prices are rising at the fastest rate in a decade while wages have remained flat.

Also in Japan, Shinsei Bank has agreed to buy General Electric's consumer finance business in the country for $5.4 billion. Under the deal, the U.S. conglomerate will sell its credit card, loan and mortgage business. General Electric's exit from the sector follows the closure of U.S. financial giant Citigroup's consumer lending business in Japan.