Hong Kong's economy continues to expand. And in technology news, the U.S. computer maker Apple and Singapore's Creative Technology settle a patent dispute.

Hong Kong's chief government economist, Kwok Kwok-chuen, says the city's economy grew 6.6 percent in the first half of the year. He says growth is likely to remain steady, even if the global economy weakens.

"But even if there is some slowdown in some economies particularly the U.S., such a slowdown is expected to reduce inflation and interest rate risks," he said. "So we remain generally cautiously optimistic for the second half of this year."

For the full year, the economy is expected to grow between four and five percent.

China Construction Bank says it will acquire all 17 branches of the Bank of America in Hong Kong and Macau for $1.2 billion. The deal would more than double the size of the Chinese bank's retail business in Hong Kong. Bank of America, which owns 8.5 percent of China Construction Bank, has been scaling back its retail banking business in some overseas markets.

In Japan, the department store chain Seiyu says its losses increased five fold to $465 million in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year. However, sales increased by 1.4 percent - for the first time in fourteen years. U.S. retail giant, Wal-Mart, acquired a 53 percent stake in Seiyu in 2002, in the hope of returning the already troubled chain to profitability.

U.S. computer maker Apple and Singapore's Creative Technology have agreed to settle a patent dispute over the technology used in Apple's popular Ipod MP3 players.

Creative had sued Apple for using its technology without a license. Apple will pay Creative a one-time licensing fee of $100 million.

Apple and Creative compete in the lucrative MP3 player market, but Apple had been more successful in marketing the Ipod while Creative has struggled to sell its own line.