• Investors have been flocking to timber-based businesses in Malaysia, where timber related stocks are being traded at high prices. This is a result of a combination of strong timber prices and a comparative scarcity of timber-related listings on the Kuala Lumpur stock market.

• Japanese electronics firms are looking towards liquid crystal display screens to boost profits. Companies such as NEC, Sharp and Sanyo are pouring money into the production of LCD screens, used as display panels in portable computers, pocket televisions and other electronic devices.

• Aracruz, a forestry company that has won recognition for its green practices, has been accused of causing environmental damage to the Atlantic Forest -- a national heritage area -- and has been ordered to suspend all eucalyptus planting by a Brazilian federal judge. The firm denied the charges and said it would take legal steps to overthrow the order.

• American Superconductor Corp president Gregory J Yurek said his firm had demonstrated transmission of 2,300 amps of direct current over a one-metre cable using high-temperature superconductors, thus crossing the traditional milestone of 2,000 amps. This would make it economically feasible to replace existing ground cables with superconducting ones, the Electric Power Research Institute has said.

• Many pharmaceutical companies have stopped developing contraceptives because this industry is subject to more stringent regulatory requirements than any other drug industry. Global funding of research into contraceptives amounts to just $57 million -- little more than 2 per cent of worldwide contraceptive sales, which stands at aprroximately $2.6 billion -- with firms providing only 39 per cent of the total. There are also the risks of expensive product liability lawsuits and opposition to contraception by religious groups.

• Electronics manufacturer Sanyo is moving into another frontier of industry -- developing the next generation of chlorofluorocarbon-free domestic airconditioners. These machines will use an energy efficient, non-polluting, direct drive heat pump. The system can use fuel, waste heat, hot water, solar energy or any other kind of heat source for power.