Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, December 10, 1997

State tax collections off 2.5% so far in fiscal '98

Total taxes going into the state general fund were up 1.5 percent for November at $199.6 million compared with November 1996. But the biggest part of the fund -- $96.5 million from the general excise and use taxes -- was down 9.3 percent from the previous November

For the first five months of the current fiscal year, total general fund collections were $1.13 billion, down 2.5 percent compared with the previous July-November period, the state said today. The Council on Revenues has projected that total tax revenues for the 1998 fiscal year, which has seven months left, would be up 2.8 percent. Excise and use taxes for the latest five months were down 4.5 percent, the state said.

First Hawaiian expands with Saipan branch

First Hawaiian Bank will open its first branch in Saipan Monday.

The bank has had a financing office there for a year to assist automobile dealers. The new full-service bank branch is the latest step in a growing commitment to Saipan, First Hawaiian said.

The 2,000-square-foot branch in the Gualo Rai Commercial Center will hold a grand opening Saturday. The branch is managed by Bob Gardiner who also oversees the automobile dealer center.

U.S. trade deficit grows on Asian currency crisis

WASHINGTON -- Japanese investors sold U.S. Treasury securities as the deficit in the broadest measure of U.S. foreign trade shot up 11.4 percent over the summer and early fall.

The current account deficit, reported today by the Commerce Department, rose from a seasonally adjusted $37.9 billion in the second quarter to $42.2 billion in the third.

It was the highest level in a year. The shortfall for 1997 was mounting at an annual rate of $160 billion, compared with an actual deficit of $148.2 billion in 1996. If realized, 1997 would mark the worst current account trade performance in 10 years.

The current account deficit is considered the broadest measure of the country's trade performance because it measures not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries and foreign aid.

The deterioration in the deficit partly reflects a currency crisis that began in Thailand this summer and widened throughout the region this fall. Sharp currency devaluations have curtailed Asians' buying power and that's hurt U.S. exports. At the same time, Asian manufacturers have pushed to sell aroad to make up for reduced domestic demand.

Burger King turns up heat in french fry battle

MIAMI -- Burger King Corp. presented its new french fries as part of a new product roll-out today in New York.

With its new fry, Burger King is seeking to turn up the heat on archrival McDonalds Corp. Burger King, a unit of Britain's Grand Metropolitan, plans to release its "hotter and crispier" fries this month.

In other news . . .

NEW YORK -- The stock of Oxford Health Plans Inc. plunged to a 52-week low today, a day after the company said it will report a net loss for the fourth quarter and year. The health-maintenance organization's already-battered shares fell $2.94 to $17.121/2 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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