Money Daily Brief: China seeks US commitment on free trade

Nir Elias/Reuters/File
A broker worked the lines at the Shanghai Stock Exchange last month. The city jumped 25 spots to become the world's 10th most competitive financial center, according to a new survey.

Not picking a fight: Chinese President Hu Jintao may seek assurances from President Obama that the US isn't backing away from free trade when they meet after each speaks at the United Nations Tuesday. But Mr. Hu won't want to be seen as picking a fight over the recent trade spat over tires. The UN is hoping China and the US will show unity in tackling climate change ahead of negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

Asia rising: Cities around Asia are closing in on London and New York as competitive financial centers, according to a biannually compiled index. Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei made huge leaps, bringing them into the top 25. Separately, the Asia Development Bank sees the region leading the world out of the financial crisis.

Sweet 'n no: Cadbury CEO Todd Stitzer said his company and Kraft have some "complementary elements," but he still rejected its current takeover bid of $16 billion in a Wall Street Journal interview. Separately, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto moved to pay down its massive debts by selling Alcan Composites to a Swiss machinery firm for $349 million. Texas computer firm Dell made a go at the healthcare information-technology market with its $3.9 billion buyout of Perot Systems.

In my backyard: South Korea's central bank rolled over $450 million in foreign exchange loans that come due this week, part of a $30 billion currency swap line with the US Federal Reserve. August data showed Korea's foreign exchange reserves have rebounded to precrisis levels, which along with other positive signs for Asia's fourth-largest economy, is boosting the case for an interest-rate hike by the Bank of Korea, possibly before 2010.

-- Ben Hancock is a Monitor contributor based in Seoul. For a look at the Obama administration's proposed rules of the road for the Internet, see Net Neutrality: FCC proposes three new rules.

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