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Jewish Settlers Use Tourism to Draw Israelis to West Bank

Perched atop a West Bank hill, the Binyamin region visitors center invites travelers to look past the military jeeps patrolling the surrounding area and enjoy nature, archaeological sites and bucolic vineyards.

Jewish settlers are promoting tourism to draw Israelis who might otherwise never set foot in the West Bank, an occupied area Palestinians want as part of a future state. Proponents hope that drawing visitors will help increase support for retaining the territory, while critics say the tourism campaign, like Jewish settlements, is a foothold that stands in the way of making peace.

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Analysts Say KSA Unlikely to Lift Oil Output Quickly

Saudi Arabia is unlikely to boost oil production quickly to ease the rise of crude prices, because it needs high prices for its own increased spending, analysts at an international banking think tank said Tuesday.

After producing 8.6 million barrels a day in 2010, the world's leading oil supplier will only kick up production to about 8.9 million barrels this year, said analysts at the Washington-based Institute of International Finance.

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Bin Laden's Death Lifts Dollar

The dollar strengthened against the euro in Asian trade Tuesday as markets reveled in the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, analysts said.

One euro bought $1.4818 in afternoon Asian trade compared to $1.4824 in New York on Monday, Agence France Presse reported.

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Kuwait's Global House Q1 Net Loss Rises

Kuwait's Global Investment House, a firm undergoing a debt restructuring plan, said on Monday its net loss in the first quarter of 2011 rose sharply compared with the same period the previous year.

The net loss in the January-March period rose 55 percent to 22 million dinars ($80 million) compared with a shortfall of 14.2 million dinars ($51.5 million), Global said in a statement posted on Kuwait Stock Exchange website.

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Luxury Cars and Trucks Boost Daimler's Profit

German luxury car maker Daimler said Friday that its first-quarter net profit nearly doubled, and maintained a rosy outlook for the year amid strong demand for its Mercedes-Benz cars and also heavy trucks.

Daimler said net profit jumped to 1.18 billion euros ($1.75 billion) in the three months from January to the end of March, from 612 million euros in the same period of 2010.

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World Bank to Give Palestinians $10 mln in Aid

The World Bank said Thursday it would provide $10 million in aid to needy Palestinian families as a new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas raised questions about continued Western assistance, Agence France Presse reported.

The international body said the funds would go to 5,500 families in the occupied West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, following a similar program in 2009 and 2010 that provided direct aid to some 25,000 families.

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Oil Prices Stable, Brent Above $125

World oil prices steadied on Thursday ahead of growth data in the United States, the biggest crude-consuming nation.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June gained 10 cents to $125.23 a barrel in London deals.

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Russia to Ban Gasoline Exports Amid Shortages

Russia decided to halt exports of gasoline and switch the flow to the home market to fight shortages and a price rise, in a statement on Thursday taking effect in a few days' time in May.

The sudden announcement from the world's biggest oil producer came after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered his government to tackle an issue that has been gaining increasing attention ahead of upcoming elections.

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Total, Tecpetrol, Make Major Bolivian Natural Gas Discovery

The French energy giant Total and its Argentinian partner, Tecpetrol, announced the discovery of a major natural gas find in Aquio in southeast Bolivia.

The find, which contains some three trillion cubic feet (84 billion cubic meters), will boost natural gas reserves in this Andean country by nearly one third, Bolivian energy officials said Wednesday.

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Billionaire Carlos Slim Appeals Record Fine

Telcel, the Mexican cell phone company led by the world's richest man of Lebanese origin Carlos Slim, announced Tuesday it will appeal a record one billion dollar fine imposed by the anti-trust regulator.

"Telcel will use the legal means at its disposal to defend itself," faced with the "opportunistic and excessive" fine, imposed April 15 by the Federal Competition Commission (Cofeco), a statement said.

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