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Samsung Sells Units and Announces $2 bn Share Buyback

Samsung announced Wednesday the $1.7 billion sale of stakes in four affiliates and a $2.0 billion share buyback as the South Korean giant steps up restructuring efforts ahead of a generational ownership succession.

The sale of its petrochemical and defense units to the Hanwha conglomerate, which has major petrochemical holdings, is expected to be finalized in the first half of next year, Samsung Group said in a statement.

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Profit at World's Top Diamond Producer Falls 44% as Ruble Plunges

Russia's state-held Alrosa, the world's top diamond producer, said Wednesday its profits fell 44 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2014 due to the plunging value of the ruble.

Net profit from the first nine months of 2014 fell 44 percent to 12.8 billion rubles ($277 million), Alrosa said in a statement.

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Oil Prices Mixed ahead of OPEC Meeting

Oil prices were mixed in Asia Wednesday as speculation swirls that the OPEC oil cartel will maintain output at this week's closely watched meeting despite a global supply glut.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery fell two cents to $74.07 while Brent crude for January rose nine cents to $78.42 in afternoon trade.

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Tokyo Stock Exchange Shelves Evening Trade Plan

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has indefinitely shelved plan to hold a two-hour evening session, which was being considered as a way for the bourse to better compete with rivals in Europe and the United States.

With competition intensifying among the world's exchanges, officials in Tokyo in January established a round table to discuss the idea of reopening for from 9pm to 11 pm (1200-1400 GMT).

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Saudi Sights Set on U.S. Shale at Crucial OPEC Meeting

OPEC's biggest crude producer Saudi Arabia will have its sights set on the upstart U.S. shale oil business at a crucial cartel meeting to debate possible output cuts on Thursday.

Analysts say the kingdom is content to see shale oil producers -- and even some members of the cartel -- suffer from low prices and will resist pressure to reduce output and shore up the cost of oil.

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Singapore's GIC to Invest in Indonesian Real Estate

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and Rajawali Group will jointly invest $500 million in Indonesian real estate with a focus on projects in fast-growing Jakarta, both firms said Tuesday.

The joint venture would involve the development of office, retail, residential as well as mixed-used projects in Indonesia, the Singapore firm said in a statement on its website.

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Further Easing Seen as China Rate Cut Signals Policy Shift

After months of modest stimulus actions to try to keep the world's second largest economy on track, China has fallen back on one of the strongest weapons in its arsenal -- an interest rate cut -- and analysts say more easing is on the way.

In the first such move in more than two years, China's central bank cut the benchmark one-year lending rate by 0.40 percentage points to 5.60 percent and trimmed the one-year deposit rate by 0.25 percentage points to 2.75 percent.

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Lebanese-Mexican Billionaire Slim's Panamanian Assets Seized

A Panamanian court has seized the assets of Lebanese-Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's local infrastructure company over a dispute surrounding a concession for a hydroelectric plant, an official said Monday.

The move follows a ruling by Panama's fifth-circuit civil court in favor of Panamanian businessman Julio Cesar Lisac, who filed suit in 2006 claiming that then-president Martin Torrijos had stripped his company, Mina Hydro-Power Corp, of its concession to operate the plant and granted it instead to Slim.

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Euro Struggles in Asia on ECB Chief's Comments

The euro struggled in Asian trade Monday after being hammered late last week in response to comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) chief hinting at further stimulus measures to fend off deflation.

The single currency was at 146.19 yen in afternoon trading, slightly up from the 145.91 yen recorded in late London trade Friday but well off the 147.81 yen in Asia earlier that day.

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German Business Confidence Stabilises in November

Business confidence in Germany appears to be stabilizing after long months of decline, with the Ifo business climate index rising in November for the first time since April, data showed on Monday.

The closely watched barometer rose to 104.7 points in November from 103.2 points in October, the Ifo think-tank said in a statement.

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