Business & Finance

The seemingly relentless climb of the euro against the US dollar reached a new high on currency exchanges as the Monitor went to press: $1.2436. Wednesday's close was $1.2420, and as recently as Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day in the US, a euro was worth less than $1.20. Analysts said the trend probably would continue for the time being because of ongoing worries about the US trade imbalance and federal budget deficit, because few significant new economic data are being generated to influence markets, and because of indications that the Bush administration isn't unhappy about the decline of the dollar since it makes American exports less expensive. The analysts also noted no outward sign that the European Central Bank is preparing to sell euros to drive down their value. Since Jan. 1, the euro has risen almost 19 percent against the dollar.

In the year's largest initial public offering, insurance giant China Life Ltd. raised $3.4 billion for its debut in Hong Kong. The sale Thursday took place under a cloud, however - a mistake in promotional ads that could have led small investors to think their money was buying more shares than it actually did. Regulators permitted the sale to proceed anyway, and a correction appearing in Thursday's morning newspapers explained the situation. The carrier's advisers were ordered to submit a report on how the mistake occurred and could be subjected to a fine or other disciplinary action, Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission said. China Life shares accounted for more than one-third of the day's trading on the Hong Kong exchange. The company is based in Beijing and controls almost half of the Chinese mainland's life-insurance and 70 percent of its accident-insurance markets.

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