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  • MELBOURNE, March 13- Origin Energy, in charge of coal seam gas drilling for the Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas project, said on Thursday it had stopped work at 12 sites in Queensland state as asbestos had been found in drilling fluids it was using.

  • Brent firms above $108 on supply risks, demand outlook Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 | 10:25 PM ET

    *Asian shares on defensive as China fears rattle commodities. SINGAPORE, March 13- Brent futures inched higher on Thursday, holding above $108 a barrel, as investors focused on risks from the unfolding crisis in Ukraine and as OPEC raised its 2014 global oil demand growth forecast for a second straight month.

  • WELLINGTON, March 13- New Zealand's central bank raised interest rates on Thursday and signalled an aggressive tightening this year, taking the lead among developed economies in lifting rates off record lows as it tries to quell inflation pressures in an outperforming economy.

  • MELBOURNE, March 13- Origin Energy, in charge of coal seam gas drilling for the Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas project, said on Thursday it had stopped work at 12 sites in Queensland state as asbestos had been found in drilling fluids it was using.

  • TOKYO, March 13- Japan's Nikkei share average edged up on Thursday morning after falling to a one-week low on the previous day as strong machinery data supported sentiment as far as metal shares, which remained pressured on persistent concern about Chinese demand.

  • *U.S. Senate announces its own probe of GM, NHTSA over recall. *Senate, House say criminal investigation could complicate their probes.

  • March 12- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York looked at whether a key foreign-exchange benchmark was subject to manipulation in 2012 but did not pursue any public action, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

  • *Bank of Korea seen raising rates from late 2014. SEOUL, March 13- South Korea's central bank kept interest rates steady for a 10th straight month on Thursday, as expected, as it eyes offshore risks and a slow domestic economic recovery amid low inflationary pressures.

  • METALS-Copper futures off multi-year lows; tone cautious Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 | 9:34 PM ET

    SINGAPORE, March 13- Shanghai and London copper futures regained strength on Thursday after plunging to multi-year lows in the previous session but concerns about China's economic slowdown could cap gains as investors await a fresh batch of data.

  • LIMA, March 12- Peru is talking with Brazilian construction giant OAS about resuming construction on a $4 billion hydroelectric plant that has been stalled since 2011 because of local opposition, an official said on Wednesday. An OAS representative in Peru said by telephone that the company did not have any comment.

  • WASHINGTON, March 12- The United States and Japan made some progress on resolving a deadlock over tariffs on farm and industrial exports which is dragging on a wider Pacific trade deal, a senior Japanese official said on Wednesday.

  • BEIJING, March 13- China's civil aviation chief said on Thursday that there was no proof that floating objects in the South China Sea seen by satellite images were connected to a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft. "Chinese satellites have found smoke and floating objects...

  • SEOUL, March 13- South Korea's central bank kept interest rates steady for a 10th straight month on Thursday, as expected, as it eyes offshore risks and a slow domestic economic recovery amid low inflationary pressures. The Bank of Korea's monetary policy committee held its base rate steady at 2.50 percent, a media official said without elaborating.

  • Brazil's president faces revolt by coalition allies Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 | 9:00 PM ET

    BRASILIA, March 12- The rift between President Dilma Rousseff and her main political allies widened on Wednesday one day after they voted in Congress to look into bribery allegations leveled at Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras.

  • SINGAPORE, March 13- U.S. crude futures held steady at around $98 a barrel in early Asian trade on Thursday, after plunging more than 2 percent in their biggest drop in two months overnight as investors turned their focus to the unfolding geopolitical crisis in Ukraine.

  • The Highway Trust Fund, which receives money from a federal tax on every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel sold in the United States, is expected to become insolvent by 2015..

  • Markets have been seesawing all week amid uncertainty about a standoff in Ukraine and weakness in the Chinese economy, although copper rebounded from earlier losses on Wednesday and Wall Street ended little changed as investors stuck to the sidelines.

  • SINGAPORE, March 13- Gold was trading near its highest level in six months on Thursday as investors sought to hedge their bets against geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and economic slowdown fears in China.

  • TOKYO, March 13- Japan's core machinery orders rose in January at the fastest pace in almost a year, rebounding from a record decline in the previous month, in a positive sign that long-dormant business investment will start to accelerate and contribute to the broader economy.

  • DIARY - Top economic Events to Mar 25 Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 | 8:01 PM ET

    Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifies on the White House fiscal 2015 budget proposal before the House Budget Committee- 1400 GMT.