China has announced plans to triple the amount of money foreign institutions can place in the country's local stock markets, and the world's biggest exporter of dairy products is raising payments to its farmers. Naomi Martig has more on these and other Asian business stories from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

China has confirmed it will triple the amount of money that foreign financial institutions can collectively place in the Chinese stock markets.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange said the total allowable value of such share purchases would rise to $30 billion, from the current $10 billion.

Fewer than 50 foreign institutions have been allowed to invest in the Chinese stock market since 2002, and the total amount of their purchases has been limited to $10 billion.

Stephen Green, an economist with Standard Charter in Shanghai, says the allowed increase in purchase value will not likely have a major impact on Chinese stock prices.

"China's stock market is enormous, and really, $30 billion is a drop in the ocean when it comes to the amount of money that is being traded every day, and the amount of shares that are out there," he said.

The announcement was confirmation of a pledge made by Chinese officials to U.S. officials in May. It is not clear when the new purchase limits will take effect.

New Zealand's Fonterra Cooperative, which accounts for 40 percent of the international trade in dairy products, says payments to its dairy farmers will rise 55 percent.

This amounts to an increase of around $2.4 billion in total revenue to New Zealand farmers this season. The increase is due to higher dairy prices and a surge in dairy production.

There is increasing demand for dairy products by Asia's growing middle-class population. This, along with strong demand for grains for the production of biofuels, is putting pressure on farming costs and driving up global food prices.

The Asian Development Bank has announced it will provide $1.1 billion in loans to Vietnam for the construction of a 244-kilometer highway from Hanoi to Vietnam's border with China. It is the largest amount of financing for a single project in the ADB's history.

A quarterly survey by the Bank of Japan shows that business sentiment among large manufacturers is at its lowest point since September 2005. The pessimism is mainly due to anxiety about a possible slowdown in the U.S. economy and recent market turmoil.

And in Thailand, a court has ruled that energy giant PTT, the second-largest company on the Thai stock exchange, legally listed its shares and can remain on the exchange.

Consumer groups had asked the court to revoke laws that allowed the company to float its shares in December 2001. That would have resulted in a de-listing of PTT, which represents more than 15 percent of Thailand's total market value.