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Costa Rica's next president wants narrower currency band

By Alexandra Alper SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Costa Rica's president-elect wants to see the national currency trade in a narrower band to avoid volatility that has sent it on a roller coaster ride over the last few months, the center-left former diplomat said. Costa Rica's colon, which trades in a band set by the central bank that is currently between around 500 and 825 colones per dollar, is down 9 percent this year, after firming in December.

S. Korea OKs private humanitarian aid to N. Korea

SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea allowed a civilian group Wednesday to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea, despite renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula. A local private group named Seomgim, or the Devotion, was permitted to ship basic medical supplies worth 17 million won (US$16,248) to maternity clinics in the North Hamgyong Province, according to Seoul's unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

S. Korea's jobless rate drops but job creation slows

SEJONG, April 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's jobless rate dropped in March from a month earlier, but job creation also slowed, raising concerns that the labor market conditions are not improving fast, a government report showed Wednesday. According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 3.9 percent last month, down from 4.5 percent tallied in February. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate also dropped from 3.9 percent to 3.5 percent.

Bank of America shuts down in Costa Rica, lays off 1,400

Bank of America announced Tuesday it was shutting down its operations in Costa Rica, where it employed 1,400 people in a technological unit. The company said in a statement the closure of its center in the Central American country would take place over the next nine to 12 months, in order for it to concentrate its activities in other countries. "As a result of constant reviews (of operations) we will close our technology and operations sites in San Jose de Costa Rica," the bank said in a statement.

Bank of America shuts down in Costa Rica, lays off 1,400

Bank of America announced Tuesday it was shutting down its operations in Costa Rica, where it employed 1,400 people in a technological unit. The company said in a statement the closure of its center in the Central American country would take place over the next nine to 12 months, in order for it to concentrate its activities in other countries. "As a result of constant reviews (of operations) we will close our technology and operations sites in San Jose de Costa Rica," the bank said in a statement.

U.S., China to establish regular dialogue channel on N. Korea

BEIJING/WASHINGTON, April 8 (Yonhap) -- The United States and China have agreed to set up a high-level consultation channel to discuss North Korea and other regional security issues, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on a landmark trip to Beijing. The deal reflects efforts by the two top global powers to cooperate on the North Korea issue despite their rift over Beijing's territorial stands-off with some of its neighboring countries. North Korea was high on agenda in his meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan on Tuesday (local time).

Intel lays off of 1,500 employees in Costa Rica

US microchip giant Intel announced Tuesday it was reducing its assembly and testing operations in Costa Rica and will lay off 1,500 employees. The move was a major blow to the economy of the Central American country, where 2,700 people were employed at an assembly plant set up in 1998. "We are going to phase our our manufacturing operations in Costa Rica over the next six months. It is assembly test manufacturing. It will result in the loss of about 1,500 jobs," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told AFP.

Intel lays off of 1,500 employees in Costa Rica

US microchip giant Intel announced Tuesday it was reducing its assembly and testing operations in Costa Rica and will lay off 1,500 employees. The move was a major blow to the economy of the Central American country, where 2,700 people were employed at an assembly plant installed in 1998. "After extensive analysis, the company concluded the best long-term solution to maximize the operational efficiency at the global level was to close its assembly and testing plant," Intel said in a statement in Spanish.

S. Korea, Australia sign FTA, agree to bolster security cooperation

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed Tuesday to bolster security and defense cooperation between the two countries as their trade ministers signed a pact to free up trade between two of the biggest Asia-Pacific economies. Abbott arrived earlier in the day from Japan, where he announced the conclusion of free trade talks with Tokyo on Monday. One of the main purposes of his two-day visit to South Korea is to sign the free trade pact with Seoul that was concluded after five years of negotiations.

S. Korea, Australia sign free trade deal

South Korea and Australia signed a free trade deal Tuesday which will scrap almost all tariffs within a decade while immediately lifting levies on some key exports, including South Korean cars and Australian wine. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there was "huge untapped potential" in trade between the two countries as the deal was signed, wrapping up four years of negotiations.
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