News In Brief

Bridgestone/Firestone announced it will boost output at three plants in Japan to speed up its recall of 6.5 million tires in the US. The production of a total of 450,000 tires would run from August to December. The first shipment of 5,000 tires was to be airlifted from Japan yesterday, and at least 10 more flights were planned through Sunday.

The value of the New Zealand dollar dropped to 43.38 US cents, its lowest level since it was floated 15 years ago. The decline was in line with falls by other currencies - the euro slumped to three-month lows - following the US Federal Reserve's decision Tuesday to leave interest rates unchanged. But New Zealand economists questioned whether their currency's drop wasn't more the result of domestic factors such as controversial policies by the center-left coalition government and falling business and consumer confidence.

The largest foreign-investment venture so far in China moved a step closer to reality as officials said Royal/Dutch Shell Group and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) likely would sign a deal in October. Their $4.3 billion petrochemical project is centered around an 800,000 tons-per-year ethylene plant in Huizhou in the southern province of Guangdong. China, which relies heavily on imported petrochemicals, has been pushing for the building of such plants to ensure greater self-sufficiency, industry sources said. At least three other foreign-funded ethylene projects are in the pipeline, though of a smaller scale.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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