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Tesco Says to Sell Japanese Unit

British retailer Tesco said Wednesday it had decided to sell its network of 129 small supermarkets in Japan's greater Tokyo region to better focus on its operations in other parts of Asia.

"We have reviewed our portfolio in Asia and the performance of our business in Japan. Having made considerable efforts in Japan, we have concluded that we cannot build a sufficiently scalable business," Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke said in a statement.

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Oil Hovers Near $89 Amid Surprise U.S. Supply Jump

Oil prices hovered near $89 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly jumped last week, a sign demand may be weakening.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 14 cents to $89.04 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose $1.63 to settle at $88.90 on Tuesday.

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Eurozone Inflation Data Suggest no More Rate Hikes

Inflation in the 17 euro countries remained steady at 2.5 percent in August, adding to expectations the European Central Bank will hold off from raising interest rates — and may even consider cutting them — as economic growth slows.

Wednesday's figure is still above the ECB's target of just below 2 percent, but underlines that prices in the eurozone are not rising as quickly as earlier in the year. In June, inflation was 2.7 percent.

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Ratings Agency Releases List of World's '10 Safest Airlines'

Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa are the safest airlines in Europe, according to a study ranking the "ten safest airlines" by the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA) released Monday.

The safest U.S.-based airlines are AMR Corporation, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways, while the safest from Asia is Japan Airlines, it said, without giving a ranking within the top ten.

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French New Home Sales Plunge

Sales of new homes plunged by 22.6 percent in France during the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the housing ministry said Tuesday.

Construction starts rose by 9.1 percent to 80,524 however, and the issue of construction permits climbed by 8.6 percent to 118,747.

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Italy's Financial Crisis Turns up Heat on The Vatican

With Italy facing the prospect of drastic cuts to balance its budget in the years to come, a growing number of ordinary Italians are criticizing massive tax breaks given to the Roman Catholic Church.

A Facebook page set up by leftist campaigners in recent weeks asking the Vatican to help ease austerity in Italy has already collected 130,000 supporters. It asks for numerous exemptions given to the Church to be revised.

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China Tycoon to Buy Part of Iceland

A Chinese tycoon is trying to buy a huge tract of land in Iceland for a $100 million eco-tourism project that will include a golf course, the Financial Times said Tuesday.

Huang Nubo, a real estate investor and former government official, has sealed a provisional deal to acquire 300 square kilometers (about 200 square miles) of Icelandic territory, the newspaper said.

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Dollar Falls Against Euro as Risk Appetite Grows

The dollar fell against the euro in Asia on Monday as risk appetite grew after a much-awaited speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

Currency rates barely moved after the ruling Democratic Party of Japan elected Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda as new leader.

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Oil Below $86 as U.S. Refineries Survive Hurricane

Oil prices rose to near $86 a barrel Monday in Asia after a hurricane left minimal damage among refineries along the U.S East Coast.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 46 cents to $85.83 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose 7 cents to settle at $85.37 on Friday.

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World Stock Markets Rise After Fed Chief's Speech

World stock markets rose Monday, with buying appetite getting a boost from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke's prediction that the U.S. economy will eventually return to full health.

Oil prices lingered above $85 a barrel in Asia after Hurricane Irene did little damage to refineries along the U.S. East Coast. The dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

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