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Kuwait to Start Importing Gas from Iraq

Kuwait is set to begin importing up to 200 million cubic feet of gas daily from neighboring Iraq, oil ministers from the two Arab nations said after talks on Wednesday.

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U.S. Stocks Flat as Mastercard Sees Solid Holiday Sales

The Dow edged higher early Wednesday while the Nasdaq retreated a bit from its record close following data suggesting solid holiday retail sales in 2016.

A MasterCard report estimated overall retail sales excluding auto and gas grew 7.9 percent, with e-commerce and furniture scoring big gains, despite a drop in sales of men's apparel.

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Casino Tycoon Wants to Make Philippines 'Next Hawaii'

Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada, who is opening a new $2.4 billion casino resort in Manila, said Wednesday he hoped to make the Philippines "the next Hawaii" as he looks to expand his business there.

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Cuba Economy in Recession for 2016

Venezuela's economic crisis pushed Cuba into recession in 2016 for the first time in years, President Raul Castro said Tuesday.

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Venezuela Receives More New Banknotes, but Scarcity Persists

Venezuela took delivery Tuesday of its third load of new, bigger denomination banknotes, its central bank said, but there was no sign of them in circulation yet despite official promises and mounting public anxiety.

"Seven hundred and ten crates of 500-bolivar notes have just arrived from Stockholm," the bank's vice president, Jose Khan, announced on state television.

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'Profitable' Washington Post Will Expand Newsroom

The Washington Post, purchased three years ago by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, will turn a profit in 2016 and expand its newsroom, defying the downward trend in the newspaper industry.

A memo to staff this month from Post publisher Fred Ryan, obtained by AFP, said the newspaper has been helped by its digital efforts and will be launching new "initiatives" in the coming year.

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Panama Officials Head to U.S. to Probe Odebrecht Case

Panamanian prosecutors headed to the United States on Tuesday seeking information on the alleged payment of bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to officials of the Central American country.

The Panama attorney general's office said investigators are looking to "obtain details of alleged acts of bribery and use of financial institutions in Panama."

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U.S. Consumer Confidence Up Sharply in December

U.S. consumer confidence posted sharp gains in December, with survey respondents saying they had high expectations for business, income and employment in the coming six months,

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index jumped 4.3 points to 113.7, up from 109.4 in the month before. 

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Amazon Sold 'Millions' of Alexa Speakers for Holiday

Amazon said Tuesday its connected Echo speakers infused with artificial intelligence were the top-selling products over the holiday season for the online giant.

The devices -- which include the Echo and Echo Dot speakers, introduced in 2014 with "Alexa" responding to voice commands -- are part of a trend toward artificial intelligence in the home, often connecting smart appliances and other functions.

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Toshiba and Italian Banks Ripple Calm Markets

A plunge in the share price of Toshiba over a possible write-down and the bailout of one of Italy's top banks were the biggest ripples in otherwise placid trading Tuesday.

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