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  • *Markets await Fed decision, due at 1900 GMT. NEW YORK, Dec 16- The U.S. dollar hovered near a one-week high against a basket of major currencies on Wednesday, remaining little changed from Tuesday's levels on hesitation to make bets ahead of a widely anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate hike. "Given the enormity of all these decisions that will dictate price...

  • BERLIN, Dec 16- Germany signalled its readiness on Wednesday to be "extremely helpful" to Prime Minister David Cameron in his quest to renegotiate Britain's membership of the European Union. Speaking before EU leaders debate Cameron's EU reform demands on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Britain a "natural ally" and described the benefits British...

  • FRANKFURT, Dec 16- A sudden drop in asset prices amid prolonged low interest rates poses the "most imminent" threat of potential collective failure among European life insurers, Europe's early warning financial risk body said in a report. National insurance guarantee schemes and recovery and resolution plans in Europe are unlikely to be able to handle a...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 16- Motorists logged 273.5 billion miles on U.S. roads in October, a 2.4 percent increase over last year and the most ever for the month, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  • ATHENS, Dec 16- Cheniere Energy, a U.S-based liquefied natural gas exporter, is interested in a minority stake in a new LNG terminal that will supply gas to southeastern Europe through Greece, a senior company official said on Wednesday. Greece currently has one LNG terminal on an islet off Athens. That facility, with an estimated annual capacity of 6.1 billion...

  • *Gold market focuses attention on pace of future rises. LONDON, Dec 16- Gold rose more than 1 percent as expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade later on Wednesday, were tempered by speculation it would hint at a gradual pace of future tightening. Gold prices have fallen 9 percent this year, largely on the...

  • TBILISI, Dec 16- Georgia's central bank raised its refinancing rate to 8.0 percent from 7.5 percent on Wednesday in an effort to control inflation and support the Georgian currency, the lari. The bank, due to hold its next monetary policy meeting on Feb. 3, 2016, had raised the rate 1 percent in September after increasing it by 0.5 percent at meetings in February, May,...

  • BRASILIA, Dec 16- Fitch Ratings stripped Brazil of its coveted investment grade rating on Wednesday, the second agency to do so this year as Latin America's biggest economy sinks deeper into its worst recession in a generation. The deeper-than-expected recession, adverse fiscal developments and increased political uncertainty led to the downgrade, Fitch...

  • *Brent this week has neared its Dec 2008 low of $36.20. Brent was down 95 cents at $37.57 a barrel at 1408 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 59 cents at $36.76 per barrel, after rising more than $1 on Tuesday.

  • Dec 16- Drug developer Advaxis Inc said on Wednesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had lifted a clinical hold on three of its experimental cancer therapies, sending the company's shares up as much as 38 percent. Advaxis had then said the patient died due to progression of cervical cancer and that the drug played no role in the death. Advaxis said on...

  • Dec 16- Wall Street opened higher on Wednesday ahead of a widely expected hike in interest rates by the Federal Reserve later in the day.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 16- U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday concerns have risen about the Republican tax extender and U.S. spending bill, including billions of dollars in what she called special interest tax breaks. "Republicans' tax extender bill provides hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest tax breaks...

  • MOSCOW, Dec 16- Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday an out-of-court settlement of the dispute over the Ukrainian debt to Russia was impossible. "The time does not technically allow us... Ukraine's debt to Russia is due on Dec. 20, and Russia has said Kiev has 10 days after that to repay the debt or accept a restructuring deal proposed by Russian...

  • There is no immediate prospect of large-scale oil exports from the United States because domestic refineries have increased their processing of U.S. crude while domestic oil output has leveled off thanks to the slump in oil prices. The best way to ensure the United States continues to enjoy a healthy domestic oil industry is to allow both oil drillers and...

  • TBILISI, Dec 16- Georgia's central bank raised its key refinancing rate to 8.0 percent from 7.5 percent on Wednesday in an effort to preserve financial stability, control inflation and support the lari currency.

  • Dec 16- Drug developer Advaxis Inc said on Wednesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a clinical hold on three of its experimental cancer therapies. The company said it would resume studies on the three therapies, which belong to a class of treatments that spur the body's immunity system against the disease. Advaxis' shares rose 46 percent to $12.13 in...

  • In the solar industry, shares of Sunrun Inc and SunEdison Inc jumped on the extension of the federal tax credits, which boost residential and commercial installations. Sunrun shot up 12.2 percent to $10.65 before the opening bell while SunEdison surged 13.5 percent to $5.62. First Solar climbed 6.3 percent to $63.59 and SolarCity jumped 10.1 percent to $44.09.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 16- James Schnurr, just two months into his job as chief accountant at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, stood before a packed ballroom in Washington last December and upbraided a little-known regulator. PCAOB Chairman James Doty was among those attending the annual accounting-industry gala where Schnurr spoke.

  • *Housing starts increase 10.5 percent in November. WASHINGTON, Dec 16- U.S. housing starts in November rebounded from a seven-month low and permits surged to a five-month high, signs of strength in the housing market that could give the Federal Reserve more confidence to raise interest rates on Wednesday. Groundbreaking jumped 10.5 percent to a seasonally...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 16- Eight years after a devastating recession opened an era of loose U.S. monetary policy, the Federal Reserve was set on Wednesday to raise rates for the first time since 2006, in a sign the world's largest economy had overcome most of the wounds of the global financial crisis. "It is a foregone conclusion that the Fed is going to raise rates," said...