-- Low oil prices are forcing Mexico to tighten its fiscal belt another notch. On July 8, officials axed an additional $600 million of spending from the country's $100 billion budget for this year. Half the money will come out of Petroleos Mexicanos' exploration budget. Cuts decided so far this year now total $3.45 billion, or nearly 1% of gross domestic product.
Officials say the economy may still grow 5% this year, and they vow to keep the budget deficit at the previously planned 1.2% of GDP. Mexico had estimated its crude oil would sell for an average $15.50 per barrel in 1998. But prices are now about $10.30, and the energy ministry expects them to average $11.50 for the year.