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  • LOS ANGELES, Dec 17- Top U.S. movie theater chains are delaying plans to show Sony Pictures' North Korea parody "The Interview" on Wednesday following threats made on cinemas showing the film by a hacking group that waged a cyberattack on the Hollywood studio. Regal joins Carmike Cinemas, operator of 278 theaters across 41 states, which informed Sony late Tuesday it...

  • HAVANA/ WASHINGTON, Dec 17- President Barack Obama announced the United States would restore diplomatic relations it severed with Cuba more than 50 years ago, drawing resistance from lawmakers opposed to reconciling with the communist-run island. Obama said the moves were made possible by Havana's release of American Alan Gross, 65, who had been imprisoned...

  • Dec 17- The United States move to normalize relations with Cuba could pave the way for Sherritt International Corp to export nickel and cobalt to one of the biggest markets in the world, the miner's Chief Executive David Pathe told Reuters. Sherritt shares jumped as much as 36 percent on Wednesday after President Barack Obama moved to thaw a five-decade freeze...

  • NEW YORK/ WASHINGTON, Dec 17- The China unit of Avon Products Inc pleaded guilty on Wednesday in connection with a bribery scheme and Avon agreed to pay $135 million to resolve related civil and criminal charges. "Avon China's conduct in this regard was wrong and violated its own policies and the policies of Avon Products Inc," Benjamin said. The SEC said Avon made...

  • Dec 17- French telecom group Orange SA confirmed on Wednesday that it has been sued in California by San Francisco- based startup Telesocial in an intellectual property case, but said that the startup's claims were unfounded. Orange said Telesocial has already taken the company to two French courts including the Paris Court of Appeal based on the same...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 17- The renewal of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba could be the start of a long thaw in decades of animosity but the path is full of obstacles, not least the U.S. sanctions on the Communist-run island. Only Congress can overturn the law, and with Republicans due to take control of both the House of Representatives and the...

  • Transpacific container shippers plan freight rate rise Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 3:28 PM ET

    COPENHAGEN, Dec 17- A container shipping organisation urged companies on Wednesday to raise Asia-U.S. freight rates by at least $600 per 40- foot container from Jan. 15, corresponding to an increase of 26.6 percent from the current level. The organisation also said container shipping companies should reinstate a $400 per FEU peak season surcharge ahead of the...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 17- U.S. stock prices jumped and the dollar strengthened on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve signaled America's economy was strong enough to handle interest rate hikes at some point in 2015, but emphasized that shifts in policy would be gradual. Wall Street, coming off three days of declines, had risen with steep gains in energy stocks even before...

  • OTTAWA, Dec 17- Canada's decision to host secret talks between the United States and Cuba on normalizing relations allowed the two countries the discretion they needed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday. In a brief statement, Harper congratulated the two on their successful dialogue and said Canada supported a future for Cuba that fully...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 17- U.S. stocks were up more than 1 percent in Wednesday afternoon trading as the Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the economy and said it would take a patient approach toward lifting interest rates, a view that investors embraced. Stocks extended sharp gains following the statement but pared some of that increase heading into the close...

  • *Gold steadies after choppy session on Tuesday. NEW YORK/ LONDON, Dec 17- Gold turned lower on Wednesday, after briefly climbing above $1,200 per ounce following the U.S. "It's open to a lot of interpretation as far as gold is concerned," said James Steel, chief metals analyst for HSBC Securities in New York, referring to the Fed's statement.

  • Senator Robert Menendez said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama's shifts on Cuba policy were intended to circumvent U.S. law. "Today's regulatory changes... are clearly intended to circumvent the intent and spirit of U.S. law and the U.S. Congress," Menendez said in a statement issued after Obama announced that the United States will restore diplomatic...

  • Motiva backs off hydrocracker expansion at Texas refinery Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 3:19 PM ET

    HOUSTON, Dec 17- Motiva Enterprises has withdrawn its permit request to expand a hydrocracker and diesel hydrotreater unit at its Texas refinery, the largest in the United States. In a brief letter received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, Motiva asked, without explanation, to withdraw its August permit application for the...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 17- The U.S. dollar rallied against major currencies after the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement and comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen signaled the central bank was on track to hike rates next year. The euro was last down 1.28 percent against the dollar at $1.2346 after hitting $1.2322, its lowest level against the greenback since Dec. 9.

  • SAO PAULO, Dec 17- Grupo BTG Pactual SA's Chilean unit obtained a permanent banking license to operate in the country on Wednesday, allowing Latin America's largest independent investment bank to start operations in Chile by the end of January. In a statement, BTG Pactual said the unit, known as Banco BTG Pactual Chile, wanted a full banking license in Chile to "grow...

  • BOGOTA, Dec 17- Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels have declared an indefinite unilateral ceasefire "which should transform into an armistice," the group said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

  • Leaked Sony emails show Loeb influence on studio execs Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 3:11 PM ET

    TOKYO/ BOSTON, Dec 17- Sony Corp movie executives kept up a dialogue with hedge fund titan Daniel Loeb, even after rebuffing the billionaire investor's proposal to sell up to one-fifth of the studio's entertainment business, leaked emails show. Loeb's New York- based Third Point took a 7 percent stake in the company in May 2013 and suggested that proceeds from a...

  • *Egypt says confident Russia will honour contracts. MOSCOW, Dec 17- Russia, one of the world's main wheat exporters, is taking steps to restrict grain exports in an attempt to cool domestic prices, as it tackles a financial crisis linked to plunging oil prices and Western sanctions. A Russian grain exporters' lobby-- the National Association of Exporters of...

  • WASHINGTON/ BOSTON, Dec 17- Government investigators fear the hackers behind the unprecedented attack on Sony's Hollywood studio may never be caught if they are under the protection of North Korea, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The law enforcement official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, said authorities will require...

  • *But Samaras discussed plans with Berlin, Brussels. But in contrast to a recent predecessor, he made sure before dropping the bombshell that Berlin and Brussels wouldn't stand in the way. With Berlin playing a decisive role in European aid for Greece, Samaras and Schaeuble spoke repeatedly by telephone in the days before the early vote was announced on Dec. 8,...