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  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- The U.S. Congress neared completion of sweeping tax and budget legislation on Friday that will stave off the threat of government shutdowns for most of next year and boost military and domestic spending while giving the oil industry the gift of crude exports. Lawmakers were rushing to finish a $1.15 trillion bill to fund the government...

  • MADRID, Dec 18- Spain's High Court said on Friday it would investigate allegations of mismanagement leveled at two former top executives of troubled engineering and energy firm Abengoa by some of its creditors. Abengoa, which is trying avoid becoming Spain's biggest-ever bankruptcy, has been brought to its knees by a large debt pile after rapid expansion into...

  • The FDA was set to decide on the approval by Dec. 27, and the agency anticipates giving its decision in early January, the company said on Friday. BioMarin's DMD drug, to be named Kyndrisa on getting the FDA nod, was expected to be the first treatment for the muscle wastage disorder that affects one in 3,600 newborn boys and causes rapid muscle degeneration.

  • CARACAS, Dec 18- Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino fears a "catastrophe" if oil inventories continue accumulating to record levels, but nevertheless backs fellow OPEC member Iran's right to increase production once international sanctions are lifted. Del Pino and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez met this week with OPEC member representatives in...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 18- U.S. House Democratic leaders expect enough votes to pass the $1.15 trillion government funding bill later on Friday, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. After the sweeping spending measure passes the House of Representatives, it will be combined with a separate tax bill already approved. The Senate may act later Friday on the...

  • *Red Hat up after FY rev forecast increase. Dec 18- U.S. stock indexes were set to open lower on Friday as a selloff in commodity markets showed no signs of easing. "Everyone is worried about the $1.2 trillion options expiration that takes place today and you're going to see some jimmying and jammying around that," said Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at...

  • SAO PAULO, Dec 18- Brazilian investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA is in talks to exit its stake in Recovery do Brasil, Latin America's largest debt collector, as part of a plan to raise cash through massive asset sales following the detention of founder André Esteves. Reuters reported on Thursday that Lone Star Funds had entered exclusive talks to purchase BTG...

  • OTTAWA, Dec 18- Canada's annual inflation rate rose in November as food prices jumped, while the decline in the cost of gasoline was not as steep as the month before, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday. Core inflation, which strips out volatile items and is closely watched by the Bank of Canada, dipped to 2.0 percent, which was also short of expectations.

  • *Indian PM turns to Russia for "Make-in- India" push. Russia and India will manufacture 200 Kamov-226T helicopters in a joint venture, a Russian and an Indian government official said, in the first big step for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign to build a domestic industrial base and reduce the military's dependence on expensive imports.

  • Dec 18- Drug developer BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc said it was notified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it would not be able to decide on the marketing of the company's lead drug as scheduled. BioMarin said the federal agency had not yet completed the review of the drug, which is designed to treat rare disorder Duchenne Muscular dystrophy.

  • U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER PELOSI SAYS WILL SEEK BILL GIVING PUERTO RICO A 90- DAY "STAY OF LIABILITY" IN DEBT CRISIS.

  • In the case of China's beleaguered aluminum smelter sector, when it takes the form of a "commercial" stockpiling program apparently. It's not just China's aluminum producers who are looking for government assistance in the face of collapsing metals prices. Both metals are on the SRB's shopping list since China is structurally short of both.

  • BOGOTA, Dec 18- Colombia's central bank may raise its benchmark lending rate a quarter point on Friday to put the brakes on accelerating inflation and bolster credibility with investors who feel it should have acted sooner. "The bank has been behind the curve and so has to keep raising rates to manage expectations in the medium and long term," said Andres Abadia,...

  • Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again in the next three months, according to two-thirds of economists polled by Reuters, although many say rates won't rise as quickly next year as policymakers have suggested. The Fed hiked rates for the first time in nearly a decade on Dec 16, confident the U.S. economy can stand higher borrowing costs after years of...

  • Dec 18- Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island's debt-laden power utility, said it had extended to Friday a restructuring support agreement to allow a continuation of talks with its monoline bond insurers and supporting creditors. PREPA, facing more than $8 billion in debt, had said last Tuesday that it had extended the deadline for the restructuring...

  • LONDON, Dec 18- Copper rose on Friday on a weaker dollar, year-end position squaring and rumours of potential stockpile purchases in China, but was still facing its biggest weekly decline in a month. "Typically, everybody squares off at year end, but I think a lot of people are leaving it to the last week," said Wiktor Bielski, head of commodities research at VTB Capital.

  • BRASILIA, Dec 18- Brazilian Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa may replace Joaquim Levy as finance minister, three government sources told Reuters on Friday, as speculation grows about imminent changes to President Dilma Rousseff's economic team. Speculation about Levy's possible resignation has increased this week since Fitch became the second ratings...

  • TORONTO, Dec 18- BlackBerry Ltd reported a smaller-than-expected fiscal third-quarter loss on Friday and its first quarter-to-quarter revenue gain in over two years, indicating turnaround efforts may be gaining traction. The better-than-expected results, driven by higher hardware and software revenues, sent up BlackBerry shares by 6.3 percent to $8.29...

  • RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 17- Brazilian prosecutors on Thursday charged 12 people with a bribery scheme involving Dutch firm SBM Offshore NV, the world's top leaser of oil production ships, and state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Former Petrobras executives Pedro Barusco, Jorge Zelada and Renato Duque were charged with corruption, along with former SBM...

  • *Wall Street set to follow Europe, Asia stocks lower. Wall Street, which has shed all gains made just after the Fed meeting on Wednesday, was set to open lower, following earlier falls in European and Asian stocks. The oil price problems are not going away any time soon, "said Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco- based McLaren Securities.