The International Finance Corporation, or IFC, the private-sector arm of the World Bank, has agreed to loan up to $5 million to Cambodia's largest private bank, Canadia Bank. The loan will support Canadia Bank's mortgage financing operations.

Deepak Khanna, the IFC's country manager for Cambodia, says the agreement will promote home ownership along with Cambodia's banking system. "It would help upgrade banking standards in Cambodia. We are hopeful that with the support given by IFC and USAID, Canadia can become a model institution setting the standards," he says.

Mr. Khanna says Cambodia's young population, its growing literacy rate and its emerging middle class have created conditions favorable to the growth of home ownership. He says home ownership is an important indicator of economic strength and social stability.

International ratings agency Fitch Ratings warns that the Philippines will face a credit rating downgrade if it fails to increase its tax revenues by the end of the year.

A rating downgrade would lead creditors to charge the Philippines higher interest rates, raising government borrowing costs. The government currently relies on borrowings to support a national budget deficit expected to reach almost $4 billion this year.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has asked Congress for new tax measures that would raise annual government revenue by more than $1 billion. The government expects at least some of these measures to be passed before the end of the year.

New Zealand's high court has rejected Qantas Airways' proposed alliance with Air New Zealand, saying it would reduce tourism and increase airfares.

The Australian and New Zealand carriers believed teaming up would cut costs and fend off competition from other airlines flying between the two countries.

However, some investors say Qantas can obtain a more profitable deal and access to more routes by teaming up with a major Asian airline, such as Singapore Airlines.