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  • *Shanghai index rises 7 pct in eight days, highest since Dec 2013. *Hong Kong- Shanghai stock connector scheme should boost liquidity.

  • HOUSTON/ ISTANBUL, July 31- Efforts by Iraqi Kurdistan to boost its finances through bulk oil sales suffered a setback on Thursday as its main U.S. customer swore off more purchases and Baghdad vowed to block delivery from oil-laden vessels like one the Kurds were loading for export.

  • *OPEC oil output rises in July from June- Reuters survey. NEW YORK, July 31- U.S. crude oil tumbled more than $2 on Thursday, going below $98 a barrel, hitting the lowest level since March on news of a potentially lengthy shutdown at a Kansas oil refinery, while Brent also slipped amid signs of robust OPEC oil production.

  • NEW YORK/ HOUSTON, July 31- Chemicals firm LyondellBasell, part of Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik's business empire, said it will quit buying "disputed" oil from Iraq- one day after Reuters identified it as the mystery American importer of Kurdish crude.

  • NEW YORK, July 31- Famed oil trader Andy Hall's more than $3 billion hedge fund was up nearly 20 percent at the half-year mark, sharply outpacing its rivals in one of the best performances of its seven-year history, data obtained by Reuters showed on Thursday.

  • *Corn, soy, wheat all post monthly losses. "The beans firmed up due to some speculators taking advantage of the weakness earlier in light of the very strong demand we are seeing," said Terry Reilly, an analyst at Futures International in Chicago. Chicago Board of Trade soybeans for August delivery settled up 4 cents at $12.24-1/ 2 a bushel.

  • *OPEC oil output rises in July from June- Reuters survey. NEW YORK, July 31- U.S. crude oil tumbled more than $2 on Thursday, going below $98 a barrel, hitting the lowest level since March on news of a potentially lengthy shutdown at a Kansas oil refinery, while Brent also slipped amid signs of robust OPEC oil production.

  • NEW YORK, July 31- Famed oil trader Andy Hall's more than $3 billion hedge fund was up nearly 20 percent at the half-year mark, sharply outpacing its rivals in one of the best performances of its seven-year history, data obtained by Reuters showed on Thursday.

  • NEW YORK/ HOUSTON, July 31- Chemicals firm LyondellBasell, owned by Ukraine- born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, has emerged as the mystery American buyer of Kurdish crude oil this year, but said on Thursday it will not be buying any more due to an ownership dispute.

  • BUENOS AIRES, July 31- Argentina's main government bond, stock market and peso currency dropped on Thursday after Latin America's No. 3 economy defaulted for the second time in 12 years following the failure of last-ditch talks with holdout creditors.

  • *Default risks turning Bulgaria into " Argentina of Europe": source. BUCHAREST, July 31- Holders of dollar-denominated bonds at Bulgaria's Corporate Commercial Bank are gearing up for legal action against the government if the bond defaults and the bank is tipped into insolvency, two sources told Reuters on Thursday.

  • *OPEC oil output rises in July from June- Reuters survey. NEW YORK, July 31- U.S. crude oil tumbled to a more than four-month low under $100 a barrel on Thursday on news of a potentially lengthy shutdown at a key oil refinery in Kansas, while Brent also slipped amid signs of robust OPEC oil production.

  • *Shares in Adidas and Banco Espirito Santo slump. LONDON, July 31- European shares fell sharply on Thursday, with the euro zone's blue-chip index slipping to a three-month low, on concerns of an earlier than expected interest rate hike in the Uniteed States and a debt default by Argentina.

  • In San Francisco real estate, $1M won't buy much Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 12:48 PM ET

    SAN FRANCISCO— San Francisco Association of Realtors President Betty Taisch has two words of advice for those who want to live here and think $1 million will buy them their dream house: Think again.

  • *Klesch buys Milford Haven refinery from Murphy Oil. LONDON, July 31- U.S. entrepreneur Gary Klesch is buying the Milford Haven oil refinery on the coast of Wales, safeguarding around 450 jobs and betting an ailing European refining industry can only move up.

  • Kurdistan says crude cargo near Texas legally sold Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 12:34 PM ET

    HOUSTON, July 31- A $100 million cargo of crude oil in a tanker near Texas was legally shipped and sold by Kurdistan, lawyers for the autonomous region in Iraq told a U.S. court in a letter seen on Thursday, saying Baghdad has no right to the barrels.

  • *Wheat flat in consolidation trading. *Corn, soy, wheat all on track for monthly losses. "The beans firmed up due to some speculators taking advantage of the weakness earlier in light of the very strong demand we are seeing," said Terry Reilly, an analyst with Futures International in Chicago.

  • New Paris hotel joins race to pamper the super rich Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 12:19 PM ET

    *Hotel helps Paris compete against others luxury capitals. It is part of a battle to attract Asia's new class of super-rich that not only pits the world's top hotel groups against each other but also cities such as Paris, New York and London.

  • LONDON, July 31- Britain imported more oil products than it exported last year for the first time in 30 years, an official report shows, and analysts say the country is likely to stay dependent on overseas oil as its refineries close.

  • BUENOS AIRES, July 31- Argentina defaulted for the second time in 12 years after last-ditch talks with what it called "vulture" creditors failed, as focus turned to whether big banks and funds would request the declaration of a "credit event".