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BOJ starts policy meeting, likely to upgrade economic assessment+

May 20, 2009 9:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO, May 21 (Kyodo) — The Bank of Japan began a two-day policy meeting Thursday and is expected to revise upward its economic assessment, while holding its key interest rate steady at 0.1 percent.If the central bank upgrades the assessment, it would be the first time in two years and 10...

Singapore economy shrank 14.6 pct in first quarter, AS

May 20, 2009 9:18 pm | by ALEX KENNEDY - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore's economy shrank less in the first quarter than first estimated, suggesting the island's hard-hit manufacturing and finance sectors improved in March.Gross domestic product fell an annualized, seasonally adjusted 14.6 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter...

Indonesian clerics want rules for Facebook

May 20, 2009 9:13 pm | by INDRA HARSAPUTRA - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslim clerics are seeking ways to regulate online behavior in Indonesia, saying the exploding popularity of social networking sites like Facebook could encourage illicit sex.Around 700 clerics, or imams, gathering in the world's most populous Muslim nation on Thursday...

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Texas, feds reach agreement on state school fixes, US

May 20, 2009 9:08 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to spend $112 million over five years to fix problems in the state's 13 large residential facilities for the mentally disabled.The Austin American-Stateman reports that David Morales, Texas' deputy attorney general...

Mo. pipeline explosion sparks fire, no injuries, MO

May 20, 2009 9:08 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

ROCHEPORT, Mo. (AP) — A break in a natural gas pipeline sparked a fire visible for miles in central Missouri late Wednesday. Authorities in Howard County say there were no injuries and no reports of property damage.The rupture occurred sometime after 9 p.m. in a rural part of the county just north...

2ND LD: Lay judge system starts in Japan amid lingering concerns+

May 20, 2009 9:07 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO, May 21 (Kyodo) — (EDS: ADDING INFO)Japan joined the ranks of many other countries Thursday by having a judicial system that enables ordinary citizens to try criminal cases, but many members of the public remain reluctant to serve as "lay judges," while some experts are critical of the...

World markets slump amid slew of bad news

May 20, 2009 9:02 pm | by PAN PYLAS - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets plunged Thursday as more big job losses in the U.S. further diminished hopes that the world's largest economy would soon be growing again and a leading rating agency warned that Britain may face a downgrade to its debt rating.In Europe, Germany's DAX dropped 138.27...

Sony to slash suppliers as CEO's mettle tested

May 20, 2009 8:57 pm | by YURI KAGEYAMA - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO (AP) — Sony Corp. said it will halve the number of parts suppliers to slash costs under a turnaround plan that's testing the mettle of Chief Executive Howard Stringer.The Japanese electronics and entertainment company plans to cut purchasing costs by 500 billion yen ($5.3 billion), or 20...

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Porsche, Maserati not to take part in Tokyo Motor Show+

May 20, 2009 8:42 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO, May 21 (Kyodo) — Porsche SE of Germany and Maserati S.p.A. of Italy have decided not to take part in the 41st Tokyo Motor Show scheduled for this fall in Chiba, the organizer said Thursday.The two luxury car makers have joined Germany's Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz AG and BMW AG in passing...

Woman pleads guilty in theft from auto dealership, MT

May 20, 2009 8:42 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former title clerk accused of stealing more than $66,000 from a Billings auto dealership that employed her has pleaded guilty.Cindy Wildin appeared in federal court Wednesday on one count of wire fraud for thefts from Rimrock Chrysler Jeep that ran for about two years until...

Malaysia leader vows reforms despite ethnic 'pain', AS

May 20, 2009 8:31 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

SINGAPORE (AP) — Malaysia's leader has pledged to roll back a decades-old affirmative action program for the ethnic Malay majority, insisting that the long-term benefits of doing so would outweigh the initial "pain," a news report said Thursday.Prime Minister Najib Razak, who took office last...

Japan's tally of new-flu infections reaches 281+

May 20, 2009 8:31 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO, May 21 (Kyodo) — The tally of new-influenza infections in Japan continues to rise, reaching 281 Thursday with new cases confirmed in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures among high school students and a 7-year-old girl also contracting the disease.A day after two 16-year-old girls in Tokyo and its...

Oil drops below $61 as big rally pauses

May 20, 2009 8:31 pm | by CHRIS KAHN - AP Energy Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

NEW YORK (AP) — Energy prices tumbled Thursday after the Federal Reserve predicted that even if the worst of the recession is over, the economy will continue to shrink this year.Benchmark crude for July delivery fell 99 cents to settle at $61.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices...

Swine flu spreads in Asia; Tokyo has first cases, AS

May 20, 2009 8:31 pm | by JAY ALABASTER - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese officials broadened their anti-epidemic measures Thursday as the first cases of swine flu were confirmed in the capital, and online prices soared for the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which is normally available only via prescription.New cases also were reported in China, Australia...

Oil drops below $61 as big rally pauses, 1st Ld-Writethru

May 20, 2009 8:25 pm | by PABLO GORONDI - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Oil prices eased off six-month highs Thursday after rallying the day before to above $62 a barrel on a bigger-than-expected fall in U.S. crude inventories.Benchmark crude for July delivery was down $1.23 to $60.81 a barrel by midday in Europe in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile...

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