South Korean exports top estimates
SEOUL » South Korea’s exports increased 23.1 percent from a year earlier in December, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of eight economists was for a 19.4 percent gain. Imports climbed 23.3 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $3.74 billion.
Baltic state of Estonia adopts the euro
TALLINN, Estonia » The Baltic state of Estonia became the 17th European Union member to adopt the joint European currency, the euro, yesterday.
The small nation’s decision to change from the Estonian kroon to the euro was the final step in a two-decade-long effort to integrate its economy with Europe after it achieved independence in 1991. It is the first former Soviet republic to join the single-currency club.
Emerging-market stocks up 16%
NEW YORK » Emerging-market stocks rose for a fourth day, completing the biggest two-year gain since 1989, as confidence in the global economic recovery increased and higher metals prices boosted raw-materials producers.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index advanced 0.5 percent to 1,151.38 at 4:30 p.m. in New York, extending this year’s gain to 16 percent. The 21-country gauge has surged 103 percent since the end of 2008 as developing nations led the global economy’s recovery from its first recession since World War II.
Officials seek new carcinogen limits
SACRAMENTO, Calif. » California environmental health officials are recommending stricter limits on a carcinogen in drinking water whose dangers became more widely known after the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich."
Scientists with the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said yesterday water systems should have no more than 0.02 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium. That’s down from their 2009 recommendation of 0.06 parts per billion.
They say the revised proposal is based on new research that shows certain populations are more susceptible to health risks from exposure to carcinogens.
Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co. over hexavalent chromium releases in the town of Hinkley.
Electric cars slow to reach roads
DETROIT » This was the year General Motors Co. and Nissan made good on their promise to bring mass-produced electric cars to the market. But don’t count on seeing one in traffic soon. Sales so far have been microscopic, and they’re likely to stay that way for some time because of limited supplies.
GM sold between 250 and 350 Chevy Volts this month, and Nissan’s sales totaled fewer than 10 Leaf sedans in the past two weeks. Production for both is slowly ramping up.
It will be well into 2012 before both the Volt and Leaf are available nationwide. And if you’re interested in buying one, you’ll need to get behind the 50,000 people already on waiting lists.
It’s still unclear just how large the market for electric cars will be once those early adopters are supplied. The base sticker price is $40,280 for the Volt and $32,780 for the Leaf, much higher than most gas-powered cars of similar size.