GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Bowater Inc. reported today that earnings nearly tripled in the second quarter thanks to higher newsprint, pulp and coated paper prices.

In the three months ended June 30, net income totaled $18.9 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, on sales of $396 million. That compared with income of $7.1 million, or 16 cents a diluted share, and sales of $356 million in the year-ago quarter.

This year's results include a charge of $9.6 million from currency hedges in the company's acquisitions of Canadian paper maker Avenor Inc. and the Halla newsprint mill in Korea.

Bowater, the largest newsprint maker in the United states, said demand for paper and pulp was strong in the second quarter despite Asia's economic problems. The company, which has been reorganizing operations, saw its selling and administrative expenses drop more than 30 percent from the year-ago quarter.

For the first half of the year, Bowater earned $43.7 million, or $1.03 per share, compared with $6.8 million, or 12 cents per share, the same period a year ago. Sales totaled $779 million, up from $705 million last year.