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Oil Prices Edge Higher Ahead of U.S. Stockpiles Report

Oil prices edged higher in Asia Wednesday as dealers sat on the sidelines ahead of an upcoming U.S. stockpiles report, while a record-breaking North American cold snap provided strong support.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery, was up 29 cents at $93.96 in mid-morning trade while Brent North Sea crude for February rose eight cents at $107.43.

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Japan, Turkey Agree on Trade, Atomic Power Tie-Ups

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for free trade talks Tuesday, as pressure mounted at home over a corruption scandal in which hundreds of police officers were fired.

The two countries also confirmed their cooperation on nuclear technology, as Abe seeks deals to revive the world's third-largest economy.

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Samsung Forecasts Steep Drop in Q4 Earnings

South Korea's Samsung said Tuesday it expected a steep drop in its operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2013, as slowing sales of high-end smartphones and a strong won hit the world's top technology firm.

The company forecast an operating profit of 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) for October-December, down 18.3 percent from the third quarter and 6.1 percent lower than a year earlier.

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Sri Lanka Raises $1 bn in Debt Sale Despite IMF Warning

Sri Lanka said Tuesday it had raised $1 billion through a sovereign bond issue despite a warning by the International Monetary Fund against increasing its foreign borrowing.

The central bank said the five-year bond, offering an annual six percent yield, was more than three times oversubscribed within hours of opening Monday.

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Flydubai Confirms Order of 86 Boeing Jets

Boeing and flydubai announced Monday a firm order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 11 Next-Generation 737-800s, the U.S. company's largest single-aisle airplane order in the Middle East.

The order is valued at $8.8 billion at list prices, the companies said in a statement. Aircraft orders are often negotiated at a discount.

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Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Chair of U.S. Federal Reserve

The U.S. Senate confirmed Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen to be the new head of the world's most powerful central bank Monday, the first woman ever to lead the Fed.

President Barack Obama's nominee earned bipartisan support in the bitterly divided chamber, but the vote was still closer than those for her predecessor Ben Bernanke, who steps down on January 31 after eight years in the job.

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Swiss Central Bank Hard Hit by Gold Price Fall

Switzerland's central bank said on Monday it lost billions in 2013 amid a sharp drop in gold prices and that it therefore would not pay dividends to Bern or the Swiss cantons.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) said it expected to report a loss of 9.0 billion Swiss francs ($9.9 billion, 7.3 billion euros) in 2013, according to provisional figures.

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FT: EU Won't Seek Law to Separate Banking Activities

The European Union is set to drop financial reforms that would force big banks to ringfence their retail departments from riskier investment operations, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

A draft European Commission paper, seen by the business paper, would no longer make banks automatically split operations and would give national supervisors more leeway in applying the reforms.

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2014 Year of 'Hard Truths' for British Economy

British finance minister George Osborne will warn that 2014 is to be the year of "hard truths" and public spending cuts when he sets out his plans for the year ahead on Monday.

He will tell an audience in central England that there is "still a long way to go" in reducing the public deficit, despite three years of austerity, according to extracts released by his office.

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Chinese Tycoon Wants to 'Rebuild' New York Times

A Chinese tycoon said Monday he is serious about buying the New York Times and wants to work on "rebuilding its credibility and influence" by reforming its award-winning coverage of China.

Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China's 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his charitable giving, penned an op-ed in the state-run Global Times newspaper headlined: "I intend to buy The New York Times, please don't take it as a joke".

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