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HONG KONG, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- As typhoon Haima edges closer to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory issued the No. 8 Northwest Gale or Storm Signal at 6.10 a.m. HKT on Friday, bringing transport and public services to a standstill.

It is the first time Hong Kong hoisted a typhoon signal no. 8 in October since 1995, where the region's typhoon season runs mainly in summer.

Winds over Hong Kong will turn to the southwest gradually this afternoon and the no. 8 signal is expected to remain in force most of the time during the day, the observatory said in its latest typhoon warning bulletin.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority said that a total of 689 passenger flights have been cancelled and delayed as at 6.30 a.m.

Local airline Cathay Pacific said in a statement that Haima will be causing significant disruptions for flights to and from Hong Kong from approximately 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. today. Flights after 10:00 p.m. on Friday are subject to delays due to air traffic constraints.

Flight schedule is expected to resume normal from 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to the airport authority's Airport Operations Executive Director Ng Chi-kee, who called upon passengers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport.

Railway transportation is also interrupted, with direct trains going to and from Guangzhou and Shanghai suspended; while local rail lines provide limited services. Most buses and ferries services are suspended.

Hong Kong Education Bureau announced that all classes of all schools are suspended. All clinics under the Hospital Authority are closed, while Accident and Emergency services at public hospitals remain normal.

The Judiciary said that all hearings of the courts and tribunals will remain adjourned today.

Hong Kong's stock and futures market and the gold market are suspended. Hong Kong Ocean Park and Disneyland are also closed due to bad weather.

At least 23 cases of tree collapse were reported in the morning. The Home Affairs Department has so far opened 20 temporary shelters in various districts.


Confidence at the Ford Motor Co. has improved slightly in the stir of the automaker?s massive buyout program. But Ford?s retail sales in the United States continue to fall short of internal forecasts Wholesale Boston Celtics Hats , according to the company's latest monthly report card as distributed to employees last week.

According to Ford?s report card titled ?North America May 2007,? 60 percent of the automaker?s employees were "looking forward to the future as Ford employees." That was up four percentage points from Ford?s last quarterly survey of employee morale in the first quarter of 2007. Nevertheless, the poll found that less than 45 percent of Ford workers believe the automaker's "Way Forward" turnaround plan will thrive. The automaker?s poor performance on the retail sales front implies their concerns may be reasonable.

In the document Wholesale Atlanta Hawks Hats , the Dearborn automaker?s April retail market share in the United States plummeted to just 9.7 percent and that is about a full percentage point lower than Ford had projected and far from its full-year goal of 10.5 percent to 11 percent. The automaker blamed the decline on "the weak housing market and higher fuel prices." The sales of sport utility vehicle and trucks were definitely hard-hit.

Those numbers are not likely to reverse anytime soon, said Jesse Toprak, the chief economist for Edmunds. Edmunds? website Wholesale Washington Wizards Shirts , which uses information on purchaser demand, sales forecasts and future product plans to predict Ford?s market share, sees a continuing slide in the near future. This is because Ford remains too dependent on the cooling segments of large trucks and sport utility vehicles.

"At least they're realizing they cannot keep going blindly after market share Wholesale Utah Jazz Shirts ," Toprak said. "Their overall strategy of how to approach the U.S. market has to change. You can make money with less market share."

Ford has managed to keep its share of the retail market relatively stable, company spokesman Jim Cain said. The automaker also has moved to create a portfolio that offers as many cars and crossovers as trucks and huge sport utility vehicles. This move is expected to help the automaker to become less vulnerable to gas and housing concerns. "We have launched a raft of new fuel-efficient products," Cain said. "It takes time to turn a ship."

Also according to the report card Wholesale Toronto Raptors Shirts , the Detroit automaker missed its material cost reduction target for the month. "Material cost reductions through April were five percent below forecast," the report card states, blaming the underperformance on ongoing weakness among suppliers of the automaker. "Some negotiations have been extended due to continued distress in the supply base."

On the positive side of the issue Wholesale San Antonio Spurs Shirts , Ford said that it continues to make progress on selling off the former Visteon Corp. facilities it retrieved as part of a 2005 bailout of its former parts subsidiary. In 2006, the automaker reported a $12.6 billion loss. And it needs the swift performance of the Hypertech to recover and compete capably in the automotive industry.

Ford is in the midst of a sweeping restructuring plan that aims to restore the automaker to profitability by 2009. Successful new products and a focused recovery plan are boosting employee morale, Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said. "The trend will continue Wholesale Sacramento Kings Shirts ," he said, "if we keep doing our jobs."

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