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Shell sells off Chile refining iNterests

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell announced Friday the sale of its refining and distribution activities in Chile to local oil company Quinenco for $614 million (433 million Euros).

"Shell today announced it has agreed to sell most of its downstream business in Chile to Quinenco for a total consideration of some U.S.$614 million," the group said in a statement.

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Japan Auto Sales Plunge After Tsunami

Japan's car sales plunged nearly 40 percent in March following the tsunami and nuclear disaster, an industry group said Friday.

Automakers sold 279,389 cars in Japan last month, down 37 percent — the biggest ever year-on-year drop for March, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

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Fiat Hopes New Models Will Increase Market Share

Italian auto giant Fiat will increase its European market share in 2011 with the launch of new models in the second half of the year, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday.

"For 2011, we expect a general market improvement, with the exception of the European passenger car market, which will be negatively impacted by declines forecast for Italy and France," Marchionne said.

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G20 Meeting Highlights Conflicts Over Currency

The time is right for China to move ahead on internationalizing its currency, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told finance mandarins Thursday at a brainstorming session for the Group of 20 leading economies on reforming the global monetary system.

Differences over exchange rate policies and other key issues were apparent at the meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, with Sarkozy urging that China's currency, the yuan, become an international reserve currency, while U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the yuan must trade more freely before that can happen.

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Versace Suffers Loss in 2010 But Beats Own Forecast

Italy's Versace luxury group said Tuesday it suffered a net loss in 2010 in the face of a restructuring plan but beat its own forecasts and banks on returning to profit this year.

"As expected, the company registered a loss in 2010," Versace said in a statement, without specifying the extent of the loss.

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World Shares Down as Japan Crisis Defies Control

World markets were lower Tuesday, following a late-day slide on Wall Street and more bad news from Japan as it raced to stop a radiation leak from a nuclear power plant damaged in an earthquake nearly three weeks ago.

Oil prices extended losses below $104 a barrel amid territorial gains by Libyan rebels seeking to topple Moammar Gadhafi and restart crude exports from the OPEC nation. The dollar was lower against the euro and little changed versus the yen.

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World's Highest Hotel Opens in Hong Kong

The world's highest hotel opened its doors in Hong Kong on Tuesday, housed in the city's tallest skyscraper and offering unrivaled panoramic views of the world famous Victoria Harbor.

Towering some 490 meters (1,600 feet) above the bustling, chaotic streets of the Southern Chinese city, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is making a grand comeback after temporarily closing in 2008.

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India to Pay Iran for Oil Using Germany

India is set to pay Iran for billions of dollars worth of oil imports by channeling funds to Tehran via the German central bank, a German newspaper report said Monday.

Under pressure from the United States to break direct commercial links with the Islamic republic, India intends to place money for its Iranian oil imports in an account with the Bundesbank, the Handelsblatt business daily reported.

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Oil Below $106 Amid Unrest, Strong Demand

Oil prices hovered below $106 a barrel Friday in Asia as political upheaval in the Middle East and signs of strong global demand keep crude near two-year highs.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was up 10 cents to $105.70 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 15 cents to settle at $105.60 on Thursday.

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Connelly Meets Lebanon Bankers, Says LCB Action Not Targeted Against Lebanese Banking Sector

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly on Wednesday held talks with the board of directors of the Association of Bankers in Lebanon (ABL).

Connelly reiterated to the ABL members that “the recent action taken by the U.S. Treasury to designate the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the Patriot Act came as a result of a long-term criminal investigation,” the U.S. Embassy said.

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