In Brief

Romania to approve purchase of 48 jets BUCHAREST (Reuters) -The Romanian government plans to approve the acquisition of 48 fighter jets worth at least 4 billion euros ($6 billion) by November, Defense Minister Teodor Melescanu told Reuters in an interview yesterday. The second-poorest European Union member joined NATO in 2004 and has been a staunch ally of Washington’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but its Soviet-made MiG-21s are not compatible with NATO missions and need to be replaced. Romania is part of NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability fleet and agreed to purchase new aircraft to meet its requirements. «We have a green light from almost all the concerning institutions to buy them, and only need one more approval from the Finance Ministry which still has some questions about the costs,» Melescanu said. «I definitely expect the government’s decision by November. Then we will start talks with the sellers Melescanu said five jets meet Romania’s defense needs: F-16 of Lockheed Martin Corp, F-18 of Boeing Co, Rafale of France’s Dassault, Grippen of SAAB and Eurofighter of EADS. Foreign firms eligible for Australian indices Foreign companies from developed markets will now be eligible for inclusion on Australian stock indices without having to meet local listing and index rules, ASX Ltd and local compiler Standard & Poor’s said yesterday. So-called foreign-exempt companies currently listed on the Australian exchange that may be eligible for future index inclusion include Alcoa Inc, Anglogold Ashanti Ltd, Constellation Brands Inc, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company SA, and Newmont Mining Corporation, S&P and ASX said in a statement. «This change removes a key impediment to large international listings on ASX,» Richard Murphy, ASX’s general manager of equity markets, said. «Australian fund managers, investment banks, brokers and ASX all have a strong interest in growing the international side of ASX-listed equities.» Foreign companies were previously ineligible for inclusion as they were exempt from local exchange rules. Now, compliance with regulations in their primary markets are being recognized. The companies will still be required to meet all standard index inclusion criteria in the S&P Index methodology such as capitalization and liquidity thresholds, the statement said. (Bloomberg) Inflation rises Cyprus’s EU harmonized inflation ran at 5.3 percent year-on-year in July, a five-year high, up from 5.2 percent in June, the statistics department said yesterday. The level was the highest since April 2003, when it hit 5.6 percent. National consumer inflation released last Thursday was at 5.63 percent in July, which is also the highest in the past five years. Year-on-year, utility bills for electricity, gas and water rose 12.3 percent last month, with a 5.8 percent increase in food costs. Transport costs rose 9.7 percent. In a tabular breakdown, statistics department data showed that clothing and footwear prices recorded no increase at all. Summer retail discounts started last month. Costs of tuition rose 5.14 percent, while healthcare costs were up 3.9 percent. The Finance Ministry and central bank expect inflation to moderate over the course of the year, Cyprus’s first in the eurozone. Latest Finance Ministry projections put inflation at between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the whole of 2008. (Reuters)