- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2003

Here are some of Friday's business stories:

Philip Morris blocks damages payment

CHICAGO, April 18 (UPI) — Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris asked a Chicago judge Friday to block $3 billion of the $10.1 billion in punitive damages that it has been asked to pay by the state of Illinois.

In a settlement reached last month, Illinois and 44 other states had relinquished any future claims against the company under dispute since 1998. The agreement was for Philip Morris to pay all participating states to receive $206 billion over the next 25 years to compensate for the cost of caring for smokers who have become ill.

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Samsung's profits plunge on cheap chip prices

SEOUL, April 18 (UPI) — South Korea's semiconductor giant Samsung Electronics reported Friday that its earnings for the quarter plunged 41 percent from a year ago.

The company said the continued slide in global chip prices was the biggest cause for the sharp decline in profitability, coupled with a slowdown in demand for computers as a result of the economic downturn worldwide.

The company's net profit fell 41 percent to $937.7 million (1.13 trillion won) in the first quarter.

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Asian shares broadly up on U.S. gains

TOKYO, April 18 (UPI) — Shares in Asia ended largely higher Friday, lifted by the steady rise in U.S. markets.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei-225 average rose 52 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 7,874.51, while South Korea's Kospi rose 624 points, or nearly 2 percent, to end at 624.

As the war against Iraq is effectively over, investors in the region are turning to focus on issues closer to home, especially the situation in North Korea as well as continued concerns about the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, particularly in China.

Hong Kong, which has been hard hit by the SARS epidemic, saw the Hang Seng index continue to tread lower, falling 96.00 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at 8,579.14 Friday. China's Shanghai A shares lost 11.06 points or 0.66 percent, to end at 1,676.88, while the Shanghai B shares dipped 0.63 points, or 0.49 percent, to close at 128.37.

But Taiwan's weighted index soared 91.64 points or 2.01 percent, to close at 4,658.30, while the Jakarta composite index rose 1.14 points to 443.86 and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur composite index rose 4.24 points to 635.61.

U.S. markets were closed Friday in celebration of Easter.

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