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  • NEW YORK, Dec 15- As a historic oil and gas boom transforms the U.S. energy sector, Wall Street is losing the battle to remain the partner of choice for energy producers and major consumers seeking to protect themselves against volatile prices.

  • JOHANNESBURG, Dec 15- South Africa's state pension fund on Sunday rejected a sweetened offer for drugmaker Adcock Ingram, likely derailing a $1.2 billion bid by Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals to enter fast-growing Africa.

  • *In Chile first, two women are president front-runners. SANTIAGO, Dec 15- Chileans were voting on Sunday in a runoff election likely to hand former President Michelle Bachelet a fresh four-year term, with the center-left leader gunning for a landslide triumph to bolster her reform mandate.

  • SAO PAULO, Dec 15- Brazil will no longer resort to creative accounting to meet a closely watched primary budget surplus target and expects its fiscal position to improve in 2014 with a larger tax take, Finance Minister Guido Mantega told a newspaper.

  • *Weil was arrested in Italy mid-October. MILAN/ BOLOGNA, Dec 15- For years, former top Swiss banker Raoul Weil had U.S. charges for allegedly helping rich Americans avoid tax hanging over him.

  • Even though the normally cautious Merkel has an aversion to the unexpected, she pulled a rabbit out of her hat in picking the spirited von der Leyen to lead the defence ministry, one of the top jobs in her cabinet with one of the biggest budgets.

  • The proposal, prepared by Lithuania which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of senior EU officials in Brussels on Monday, Dec. 16. The meeting will, in essence, include the same group of finance ministers and senior officials who met in Berlin on December 6, the sources said.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 15- The withering U.S. municipal bond market will shrink even more well into 2014, with interest rate and credit risks keeping both investors and borrowers away. "There are two themes that occurred this year and they're going to carry on to next year," said Chris Alwine, head of municipal bonds at The Vanguard Group, which has $100 billion in assets.

  • *Turkmenistan has fourth-largest gas reserves. ASHGABAT, Dec 15- The Central Asian state of Turkmenistan, described by rights groups as one of the world's most repressive, proclaimed its first multi-party elections on Sunday; but both parties vowed loyalty to its leader and opponents remained in exile.

  • BRUSSELS, Dec 15- The European Union said on Sunday it was suspending further work with Ukraine on an ambitious trade and cooperation agreement because the government in Kiev had failed to give a clear commitment to signing the deal.

  • BRUSSELS, Dec 15- The European Union said on Sunday it was putting on hold work with Ukraine on a trade and cooperation agreement, saying the arguments being made by the Kiev government had "no grounds in reality".

  • *Waste in 2017 weight of 200 Empire State Buildings- StEP. OSLO, Dec 15- China and other emerging economies have overtaken Western nations in dumping old electronic goods, from TVs to cellphones, and will lead a projected 33 percent surge in the amount of waste from 2012 to 2017, a U.N.-backed alliance said on Sunday.

  • SEOUL, Dec 15- South Korea's Iranian crude imports rose in November from October, but still met a target of a 15 percent cut in shipments for June-November, which ensured it secured an extension of a U.S. sanctions waiver.

  • Lifting Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence would mark a major turning point for Japan's post-war security policy and could increase tensions in the region, where a row over tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea encapsulates growing Sino-Japanese mistrust.

  • The proposal, prepared by Lithuania which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of senior EU officials on Monday, Dec. 16.

  • Key U.S. lawmakers agree to trade authority deal -aides Saturday, 14 Dec 2013 | 2:15 PM ET

    WASHINGTON, Dec 14- Three top U.S. lawmakers on key congressional committees have reached a bipartisan deal on legislation the White House needs to advance international trade agreements and will introduce the measure early next month, congressional aides said on Saturday.

  • ISTANBUL, Dec 14- Test flows in Iraqi Kurdistan's new crude oil pipeline via Turkey started on Friday, but no exports have yet been scheduled, energy sources close to the matter said on Saturday.

  • HO CHI MINH CITY, Dec 14- In his first visit to Vietnam as America's top diplomat, John Kerry urged the country's leaders to strengthen their commitment to human rights and allow more freedom of expression, including on the Internet.

  • TOKYO/ WASHINGTON, Dec 14- Japan and Southeast Asian countries called for freedom of the air and sea on Saturday, as China's military assertiveness raises regional tensions and after U.S. and Chinese warships narrowly avoided collision in the disputed South China Sea.

  • TOKYO/ WASHINGTON, Dec 14- Japan and Southeast Asian countries called for freedom of the air and sea on Saturday, as China's military assertiveness raises regional tensions and after U.S. and Chinese warships narrowly avoided collision in the disputed South China Sea.

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