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HSBC: China Manufacturing Improves Slightly in April

Chinese manufacturing activity improved slightly in April as domestic demand showed "mild improvement", HSBC said Wednesday, but it warned the world's second-largest economy was still showing signs of weakness.

The banking giant's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops, rose to 48.3 in April from a final reading of 48.0 in March, the British banking giant said in a statement.

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Eurozone April Business Activity Nears 3-Year High

Eurozone business activity hit a near three-year high in April as a modest economic recovery gained momentum and began creating jobs, a closely watched survey showed on Wednesday.

Markit Economics said its Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for April, a leading indicator of overall economic activity, jumped to 54 points from 53.1 in March, the highest reading since May 2011.

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Soft Australia Inflation Takes Pressure off Rate Rise

Australian inflation was weaker than expected in the first quarter of the year, data showed Wednesday, easing pressure on the central bank to hike interest rates as it tries to support the economy in its transition from a mining-driven boom.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.6 percent in January-March from the previous three months, when it climbed 0.8 percent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said.

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Dollar Holds Steady, Eyes on Obama Asia Tour

The dollar held steady against the yen in Asia on Wednesday, with traders looking for developments in U.S.-Japan free trade talks as President Barack Obama starts an Asian tour.

In Tokyo midday trade, the greenback changed hands at 102.57, a touch down from 102.60 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon, while the euro bought $1.3809 and 141.66 yen, against $1.3804 and 141.65 yen.

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Netflix Shares Leap as Membership Climbs

Netflix shares leapt on Monday after the video streaming titan reported that revenue breached a billion dollars atop growing membership and that it plans a bump in new subscription rates.

The California based firm saw its shares rise more than six percent to $371.35 in after-market trades that followed release of earnings figures for the first three months of this year.

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Japan, U.S. Struggle to Bridge Gap on Freer Trade

Japanese and U.S. negotiators are struggling to reach a preliminary agreement on a free trade pact that might have served as a centerpiece for President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo this week.

Japan's economy minister Akira Amari told reporters Tuesday that the two sides remained "at a considerable distance" over trade in farm products and vehicles a day before Obama arrives.

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Indonesia Outgoing Audit Chief a Suspect in $32 mn Graft Case

Indonesian anti-corruption officials have named the outgoing audit agency chief a suspect in a $32-million graft case, the latest high-profile scandal to hit the country's public sector.

Investigators believe Hadi Poernomo, named a suspect late Monday on the first day of his retirement, may have accepted bribes in exchange for tax exemptions granted to Indonesia's biggest private bank.

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China's Shandong Airlines Orders 50 Boeing Planes for $4.6 bn

Shandong Airlines, one of China's smaller carriers, said it has agreed to buy 50 passenger planes from U.S. manufacturer Boeing for $4.6 billion, in another sign of the country's growing demand for air travel.

The company signed an agreement with Boeing on Monday to purchase 16 Boeing 737-800s and 34 Boeing 737 MAX planes, a statement said, in a drive to grow its fleet for future business expansion.

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Minister: Turkey, Russia Agree to Increase Gas Shipments

Turkey has agreed "in principle" to increase shipments of natural gas from Russia via the Blue Stream pipeline, its energy minister said on Monday. 

The two countries will increase capacity through the pipeline, which crosses the Black Sea, from 16 billion cubic metres annually to 19 billion cubic metres, said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. 

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Automakers in China Eager to Sell - and Resel

China's car market is just gearing up as the world's largest, yet automakers are already eyeing the next big thing -- the market for reselling them. 

Their eagerness to attract buyers in the world's largest car market is on full display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which opened to the public on Monday with more than 1,000 vehicles on show. 

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