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Top News & Analysis United States

  • *Coming up: Baker Hughes rig data, CFTC trade data Friday. NEW YORK, Oct 4- U.S. natural gas futures traded slightly lower on Thursday, pressured by milder mid-month weather forecasts and a government report showing a weekly inventory build well above market expectations.

  • WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement with an Asian retail operator to develop 15 franchised stores in Singapore over the next five years. The doughnut chain is working with Star360 Group to develop the stores.

  • WASHINGTON, Oct 4- Republican hopeful Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama praised the deficit-cutting plan known as Simpson-Bowles at their debate on Wednesday, but neither has made the politically painful choices put forward by that scheme.

  • NEW YORK-- Christie's will inaugurate its long-term partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation to sell its collection with a daylong sale next month. It includes a Polacolor print of Liza Minelli estimated to sell for $15,000- $20,000. There's also a screenprint of Vladimir Lenin with a pre-sale estimate of $40,000- $60,000.

  • Robert Bentley said in a statement Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the request. Bentley had sent a letter to FEMA saying the five counties-- Covington, Dallas, Geneva, Monroe and Perry-- suffered $2.5 million in damage. Baldwin, Mobile and Pickens counties had previously been approved for aid.

  • has started drilling a well in the Beaufort Sea off northern Alaska, making good on exploration plans that had been stalled by floating ice, technical delays and problems with meeting oil spill-preparation requirements.

  • CHARLESTON, S.C.-- A federal judge has transferred a court challenge to South Carolina's planned $35 million cruise terminal to Charleston from Washington, D.C., ruling the controversy is largely a local issue.

  • *Demand for strip mall space drops in third quarter. NEW YORK, Oct 4- The nascent recovery at U.S. strip malls stalled in the third quarter as retail sales struggled. But large regional malls continued to rebound, driven by top-quality malls with high-end department and specialty stores, real estate research firm Reis Inc said Thursday.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 4- Exchange-traded funds are waging a price war that may save investors money on fees, but cheaper fund choices pose a greater risk because they may rely on new, more-opaque indexes.

  • The euro zone's economic woes accelerated last month and China's slowdown looked likely to extend to a seventh quarter, surveys on Wednesday showed, while the United States proved the bright spot with better-than-expected news on services and jobs.

  • DUBAI, Oct 4- An Islamic trade association in Iran strongly condemned the protests that flared in Tehran's main bazaar as an enemy conspiracy and said traders had dealt with the "treacherous" acts, Iran's state news agency reported late on Wednesday.

  • TOKYO, Oct 4- Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a fiery nationalist whose failed bid to buy a group of disputed islands ignited a crisis with China, is pushing ahead with a plan to build structures there to hammer home Japan's claim, officials involved told Reuters.

  • Oct 3- American Airlines and its pilots union resumed contract talks Wednesday, but other problems continued to beset the bankrupt carrier. "I will never ride on American Airlines ever again," said Tony Palm, who was stranded when a connecting flight on American from Chicago to New York's LaGuardia airport was canceled last month.

  • Trading house Marubeni Corp gained 1.4 percent to 498 yen after Barclays Securities lifted its price target on the stock to 700 yen from 650, saying the company had lower exposure to resources businesses than its peers. to 1,860 yen from 2,000, Mitsui& Co to 1,320 yen from 1,350, Sumitomo Corp to 1,190 yen from 1,230, and Itochu Corp to 1,070 yen from 1,100..

  • *Jittery investors await U.S. job data, watch Europe. *Social unrest in Iran, Turkey- Syria clashes in focus. SINGAPORE, Oct 4- Brent futures steadied above $108 a barrel on Thursday after a sharp drop in the previous session, with investors waiting for a European Central Bank policy meeting and critical jobs data out of the United States this week for more trading cues.

  • SINGAPORE, Oct 4- Singapore will allow companies to issue different classes of shares, its Finance Ministry said, a move that may in time help its stock exchange win new listings.

  • SINGAPORE, Oct 3- Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk says it will talk to Vitol to determine whether one of its tankers was used by the trading house to ship Iranian fuel oil. The cargo was transferred aboard the Danish tanker from Vitol's floating storage off Malaysia, the document shows, and shipped to storage in Singapore.

  • MELBOURNE, Oct 4- Australian shares were up 0.2 percent on Thursday as banks rose while miners fell, with sentiment dented by soft retail sales figures for August and declines in oil and copper prices. Top banks continued this week's post rate-cut gains, led by a 1.2 percent rise in Westpac Banking Corp.

  • Some investors remained cautious due to events in Spain. Spain is under pressure to ask for financial assistance from the European Central Bank to keep a lid on its borrowing costs but the government has been reluctant to do so because it may come with conditions on its budget.

  • Oct 4- Louis Dreyfus Group and a unit of JPMorgan Chase& Co have agreed to sell their jointly owned energy trading business to two investor groups, the companies said on Thursday.