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Australia & New Zealand

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  • BANGKOK, Dec 17- Thailand's central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2 percent on Wednesday, as expected, saying the level is low enough to support the country's "weaker-than-expected" economic recovery. But the BOT said it sees "not much" impact on Thailand from Russia's economic crisis. The rate-hold means Thailand only changed its benchmark...

  • LONDON, Dec 16- Aluminum prices hit their lowest level in two months on Tuesday, while copper also slid after poor industrial data from China, the world's biggest metals consumer, and a further fall in oil prices. Activity in China's factory sector contracted in December for the first time in seven months, the latest in a string of weak economic indicators.

  • LONDON, Dec 16- Aluminum prices hit their lowest level in two months on Tuesday, while copper also slid after poor industrial data from China, the world's biggest metals consumer, and a further fall in oil prices. Broader market sentiment was soured as Brent oil futures sank towards $59 per barrel for the first time since May 2009, while Russia's central bank raised...

  • *China data shows factory sector contraction. LONDON, Dec 16- A plunge in oil below $60 and the failure of an emergency interest rate rise to stabilize Russia's rouble sent another shock through global financial markets on Tuesday, adding to a growing sense of crisis in a volatile end to 2014.. After a bumper few years driven by the huge quantities of extra cash...

  • SYDNEY, Dec 16- The self-styled sheik behind a siege at a Sydney cafe had been charged as an accessory to murder and with multiple sexual offenses. Last year Monis was charged as an accessory to the stabbing murder of his ex-wife, who was set alight in a Sydney apartment block. He was charged this year with more than 40 counts of sexual or indecent assault against...

  • SYDNEY, Dec 16- Heavily armed Australian police stormed a Sydney cafe early on Tuesday morning and freed terrified hostages being held there at gunpoint, in a dramatic end to a 16- hour siege in which two captives and the attacker were killed. Authorities have not publicly identified the gunman, but a police source named him as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee...

  • Business events scheduled for Tuesday Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 2:07 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Commerce Department releases housing starts for November, 8:30 a.m.. BERLIN— Germany's ZEW institute releases its monthly index of investor confidence in Europe's biggest economy. CHINA— HSBC preliminary China manufacturing purchasing managers' index.

  • Police storm Sydney café  Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 10:19 AM ET

    CNBC's Mandy Drury provides the latest details on the siege taking place at a Sydney, Australia cafe.

  • Sydney gunman identified as Sheikh Haron  Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 10:07 AM ET

    CNBC's Mandy Drury provides the latest details on the identity of the gunman holding a number of hostages inside a cafe in downtown Sydney.

  • IllRideWithYou: Aussies offer support to Muslims Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 9:04 AM ET

    Some Australian social-media users sent a message of solidarity to Muslims as the Sydney cafe siege stretched on for almost a day, offering to accompany anyone who felt intimidated on public transit. Hostages were held for more than 16 hours inside Sydney's Lindt Chocolat Cafe by a gunman who had a flag bearing an Islamic declaration of faith that has been used...

  • *Petsmart to be acquired by private equity consortium. NEW YORK, Dec 15- U.S. stocks were set to rise at the open on Monday, following the worst week for the S&P 500 in more than two years, with investors focused on crude oil prices which earlier hit a fresh 5-1/ 2- year low. Shares of pet supply retailer PetSmart rose 4.8 percent in premarket trading after it agreed to be...

  • GHENT, Belgium, Dec 15- Belgian armed police stormed an apartment in the western city of Ghent on Monday to end a siege after reports that gunmen had taken a hostage there. The victim was safe and well and three other men had been detained, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors said. The incident occurred within hours of Australian police locking down the center of...

  • US STOCKS-Futures jump early as crude prices rebound Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 7:39 AM ET

    *Petsmart to be acquired by private equity consortium. NEW YORK, Dec 15- U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday, following the worst week for the S&P 500 in more than two years, with investors focused on a rebound in crude oil prices which earlier hit a fresh 5-1/ 2- year low. *Shares of pet supply retailer PetSmart rose 4.2 percent in premarket trading after it agreed to...

  • BRUSSELS, Dec 15- Four gunmen took a man hostage in an apartment in the Belgian city of Ghent on Monday, officials said, adding there was no initial evidence linking the assault to a jihadist organisation. Belgian police cordoned off part of the city after the four men were seen entering the building in the Dampoort district, where they took a hostage.

  • PARIS, Dec 15- European stocks briefly trimmed their gains on Monday after four gunmen took a hostage in an apartment in the Belgian city of Ghent. News of the hostage-taking emerged after a security scare in Australia hit just hours earlier. Pan-European equities trimmed their gains but were still in positive territory at 1106 GMT, with traders citing the...

  • LONDON, Dec 15- Nickel prices touched their highest level in a week on Monday over concerns that the typhoon season in the Philippines could hit supply and lead to shortages. "We've said for a long time that there should be a shortage of nickel during the early part of next year due to the seasonality in the Philippines," said Nic Brown, head of commodities research at...

  • FOREX-Yen rises in choppy trading, euro on defensive Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 4:09 AM ET

    LONDON, Dec 15 (Reuters- The yen rose on Monday as financial markets shrugged off Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's widely expected election win, while a new low for euro zone inflation expectations kept the bloc's currency on the defensive. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.6 percent. The euro extended losses against the yen as investors digested the...

  • Uber backtracks on price hikes during Sydney drama Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 3:26 AM ET

    SYDNEY— The cab-hailing company Uber was promising free rides and refunds Monday for people fleeing central Sydney after coming under criticism for hiking prices during a hostage crisis that was unfolding there. It wrote Monday on its Sydney blog that it was in the process of refunding people who had already paid the excessive fares and was giving free rides...

  • *BOJ tankan highlights uneven progress of Japan stimulus. TOKYO, Dec 15- The yen climbed against the dollar and euro in extremely choppy trading on Monday, as investors took their cues from slumping Japanese shares and rising risk aversion. Japan's Nikkei stock average was down 1.3 percent in afternoon trade.

  • SYDNEY, Dec 15- Australia's government forecast its budget deficit would balloon to A $40.4 billion in the year to June as falling prices for key resource exports and sluggish wage growth blew a gaping hole in tax revenues. The deficit for 2014/ 15 had been forecasted at A $29.8 billion in the May budget, while the 2015/ 16 shortfall was now put at A $31.2 billion,...