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The Week in Asia Business - 2003-11-03

In Asia, one of the world's largest airlines has unveiled better-than-expected returns - another indication of a post-SARS travel rebound. And the boom in Australia's home construction sector shows no sign of a let-up.

Singapore Airlines reversed its loss from earlier this year to post a $176 million profit from July to September. Wage cuts and a travel rebound after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome scare early this year helped the company's turnaround.

Looking to the future, Chief executive, Chew Choon Seng, says Singapore Airlines is studying whether to launch its own brand of low-cost airline, which is becoming a trend Asia. "We obviously are aware as well as anyone else about the inroads made by the low cost carrier model and we do not take them lightly," he says.

But he ruled out transforming its subsidiary, SilkAir, into a low cost carrier. The airline is set to open new routes to more Chinese cities next year.

In China, Beijing has allowed 14 provinces to invest more money overseas by raising the cap on such investment to $3 million from $1 million. Analysts say this appears to be one method China is using to satisfy demands that it re-value the yuan by letting more money flow out of China. European and U.S. officials are urging China to consider taking the yuan off its U.S. dollar peg to narrow China's trade surplus against its trading partners.

More new homes are rising up in Australia as the number of new building permits rose 7.5 percent in September. Analysts are worried that the home construction industry is overheating, and the Australian central bank may use this as a reason to hike interest rates later this week.

The Indian government says exports surged 16 percent in September - to nearly $5 billion - from the same month last year because of high demand in the United States and Europe. The Software Technology Parks of India says software exports from India's IT hub, Bangalore, jumped 65 percent to $1.5 billion in the April to September period. Exports account for some 10 percent of India's Gross Domestic Product.