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Dollar Inches Down ahead of Yellen Speech

The dollar inched down in Asia Friday as investors awaited a speech by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief for any hint at when the bank will start raising interest rates.

The U.S. unit was changing hands at 103.71 yen in Tokyo afternoon, compared with 103.85 yen in New York Thursday afternoon.

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Edinburgh and London Grapple over North Sea's Black Gold

North Sea oil has been at the center of fierce debate over Scotland's future ahead of an independence vote next month, with both sides wrangling over the outlook for the region's treasure trove of black gold.

Around 42 billion barrels of oil and gas have been extracted from the North Sea since the early 1970s, providing a welcome boost to the British government's coffers -- and Scotland's economy.

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Russia Targets McDonald's in Expanding East-West Trade War

Russian authorities launched nationwide inspections of McDonald's restaurants Thursday after shutting three wildly-popular Moscow locations on apparent government orders aimed at striking back against biting Western sanctions.

It was the latest and arguably most resonant salvo in an escalating and economically-bruising trade war over a bloody conflict in Ukraine that has plunged East-West relations into what some have dubbed a "new Cold War".

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HP Revenue Inches Up after Years of Decline

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday reported that its quarterly revenue rose for the first time in three years, nudged by improved computer sales everywhere except Russia and China.

Net revenue for the quarter that ended July 31 was $27.6 billion, a one percent improvement from the same period last year when the California computer maker took in $27.2 billion.

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Brazil Announces New $4.5-bn Credit Stimulus

Brazil's central bank said Wednesday it would ease banks' reserve requirements for the second time in less than a month, freeing up $4.5 billion to stimulate lending and boost the sluggish economy.

Under the new rules, banks will be allowed to use up to 60 percent of reserves for credit operations, an increase from the 50-percent limit announced on July 25.

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Oil Prices Down on Fading Supply Fears

Oil prices edged lower in Asia Thursday on fading fears that conflicts in crude producers Libya and Iraq could result in a major supply disruption, analysts said. 

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery was down six cents at $93.39 while Brent for October eased 24 cents to $102.04 in late-morning trade.

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Dubai Property Giant Repays Debt Four Years Early

Nakheel, the real estate giant at the heart of Dubai's financial crisis, confirmed Wednesday that it would repay all of its 7.9 billion dirhams ($2.15 billion) bank debt almost four years ahead of schedule.

The group said it had "issued instructions" for 5.54 billion dirhams to be paid to lenders on Thursday, after a previous payment of 2.35 billion dirhams was made in February.

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Apple's Freshly Sliced Shares Climb

Freshly split Apple shares closed at a high on Tuesday, with investors evidently betting the California company will debut popular new gadgets, perhaps a smart watch and an iPhone 6.

Shares in the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Macintosh computer maker were trading at $100.53 each when the formal trading day ended at the Nasdaq exchange, and shed just a dime in after-market transactions.

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Standard Chartered Fined $300 mn Over Laundering Controls

New York state's banking regulator hit Standard Chartered Bank with a $300 million fine and restrictions on its dollar-clearing business Tuesday for not detecting possible money laundering.

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) said the British bank's internal compliance systems had failed to detect or act on a large number of "potentially high-risk transactions" mostly originating from Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

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Australia Says Bitcoin not Taxable as Currency

Crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin should not be considered as money or a foreign currency when it comes to taxation, Australia's tax authority ruled Wednesday.

In guidance designed to help people finalise their tax returns, the Australian Tax Office said Bitcoins were a form of property, disappointing those hoping they would be seen as a currency. 

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