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China Estimates 2013 Growth Slowed to 7.6 Percent

China's Cabinet estimates this year's economic growth edged down to 7.6 percent and warned it faces pressure to decline further, a state news agency said Thursday.

The forecast, reported by the Xinhua News Agency, is below the 2012 rate of 7.7 percent but above the government's 7.5 percent target.

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Oil Prices Up on Escalating South Sudan Violence

Crude edged higher in Asian trade Thursday on supply concerns following escalating violence in oil-producer South Sudan, but gains were capped as dealers sat on the sidelines awaiting fresh leads after the festive season.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 13 cents at $99.35 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for February gained 17 cents to $112.07.

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Saudi Recalls 400,000 Toyotas over Acceleration Concerns

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced the recall of more than 400,000 Toyota cars for alleged problems with unintended acceleration, a statement from the kingdom's ministry of commerce and industry said.

It said the vehicles will be equipped with a break override system to "reduce the risk of sudden unintended acceleration without the ability to stop or control it."

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Syria Signs Major Oil Exploration Deal with Russia

Damascus signed an oil and gas deal with a Russian company Wednesday which will allow for the first-ever exploration off Syria's coast.

The agreement was signed by Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman Abbas, Syria's General Petroleum Company and the Russian Soyuzneftegaz company, according to an Agence France Presse reporter present at the signing.

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Report: Batista's Oil Firm in Deal with Creditors

Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista's debt-laden oil company, currently under bankruptcy protection, has agreed with foreign creditors to renegotiate $5.8 billion in debt into a 90 percent stake in the firm.

Oleo e Gas Participacoes (OGP), formerly known as OGX, informed Brazil's Securities and Exchange Commission of the accord, the G1 news website reported Wednesday.

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Japanese Automakers' Sales in China Surge in November

Leading Japanese automakers saw their best November sales ever last month, in stark contrast to a year ago when shipments plunged amid a deep territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing.

Industry leader Toyota said its sales in China for the month reached 90,000 units, up 40.7 percent from a year ago, driven by popularity of its flagship models, including Camry, Corolla and Rav4.

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China Smugglers Dig Tunnel into Hong Kong

Chinese smugglers dug a "professional" concrete tunnel into Hong Kong equipped with lights, vents, steel reinforcements and even rails to transport goods, domestic media reported on Wednesday.

The underground path had "one end in a rented garage in Shenzhen and another in a thicket of reeds in Hong Kong, totally concealed", said a report posted on the official website china.com.cn.

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BlackBerry Co-Founder Trims Stake after Huge Loss

BlackBerry co-founder Michael Lazaridis has trimmed his stake in the troubled smartphone pioneer to just below 5 percent after selling 3.5 million shares during the past two days.

The sales disclosed in a Tuesday regulatory filing came after BlackBerry Ltd. announced a third-quarter loss of $4.4 billion last week.

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Putin Says New Post-Soviet Union Ready for 2015 Launch

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the final pieces were in place for the 2015 launch of an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan that Moscow hopes can also be joined by Ukraine.

Putin promised following talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko that the so-called Eurasian Economic Union would turn into a new source of growth for all involved.

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Indonesia to Ease Curbs on Foreign Investment

Indonesia said Tuesday it will allow increased overseas investment in a range of sectors, as it seeks to boost slowing growth and lure back foreigners who fled during recent market turmoil.

Foreign investors in Southeast Asia's top economy will be given increased access in areas including power plants, ports and airports, and the pharmaceuticals industry.

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