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  • *2- day meeting ends Dec 21, decision expected 0300-0500 GMT. TOKYO, Dec 18- The Bank of Japan is expected to maintain its massive stimulus program at a monetary meeting ending on Thursday despite growing signs of improvement in the economy, keeping its money tap wide open to ensure that recovery translates into higher inflation. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda may...

  • TOKYO, Dec 18- The dollar held modest gains against its peers on Monday, having received a lift after U.S. tax reform efforts moved another step closer to ratification over the weekend. Top Republicans are confident Congress will now pass the tax bill this week, with a Senate vote as early as Tuesday and President Donald Trump aiming to sign the bill by week's end.

  • MELBOURNE, Dec 18- Shanghai nickel jumped 4 percent on Monday, tracking a move in London after China said it would cut duties on some steel exports, which raised expectations for demand. *Shanghai Futures Exchange nickel surged by more than 4 percent to its highest since Nov. 27, before settling at 93,310 yuan a tonne, a 3.7 percent advance. Shanghai Futures Exchange...

  • *Many global investors turn bullish on Japan equities. *Japan preferred as tactical, cyclical play. "If you look around globally, there are still many investors who have missed the timing to buy because it was such a rapid rise," said Takashi Maruyama, chief investment officer Japan at Fidelity International, referring to the rally that started in mid-September.

  • TORONTO, Dec 17- Canadian homicide detectives on Sunday took the lead in investigating the mysterious deaths of pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, a day after relatives complained about the handling of the case. The development does not mean the deaths are being treated as homicides, Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Michelle...

  • TOKYO, Dec 18- Japanese stocks rose on Monday with financial and exporter stocks leading gains, offsetting weakness in construction stocks after news prosecutors raided the headquarters of at least two construction firms for alleged antitrust violations. The Nikkei share average gained 1.1 percent to 22,810.56 in midmorning trade, with sentiment boosted...

  • TOKYO— Japan's exports rose 16 percent in November from a year earlier driven by robust overseas demand for cars and manufacturing equipment that is helping to sustain the longest economic expansion in more than 15 years. A revival in export manufacturing is helping sustain Japan's recovery, with strongest growth in shipments of vehicles, power generating...

  • BEIJING, Dec 18- Chinese social media firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and e-commerce platform JD.com Inc on Monday said they will jointly invest $863 million in Chinese discount online retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd. "We look forward to providing Vipshop with our audiences, marketing solutions, and payment support to help the company provide branded apparel and...

  • BEIJING, Dec 18- New home prices in China extended another month of steady growth in November, after picking up slightly in October, shrugging off a range of government measures to rein in an overheated property market as price gains in smaller cities widened. China's housing market has been in a boom lasting more than two years, giving the economy a major boost but...

  • *$80 bln maglev line to link Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka. TOKYO, Dec 18- Tokyo prosecutors have raided the headquarters of at least two of Japan's biggest construction firms for alleged antitrust violations linked to $80 billion worth of magnetic levitation train line projects. A spokeswoman for the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office said it could not comment...

  • *17/ 18 budget deficit seen at A $23.6 bln, down from A $29.4 bln. SYDNEY, Dec 18- Australia's conservative government on Monday predicted its budget deficit would shrink faster than previously expected and finally return to surplus in 2020/ 21, putting an end to a decade of shortfalls. That was down from A $29.4 billion predicted in the May budget and amounted to 1.3...

  • SINGAPORE, Dec 18- Chicago wheat futures rose to a one-week high on Monday, heading for a third session of gain in four, with prices underpinned by concerns over dry weather hurting the U.S. winter crop. *The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday morning that private exporters reported the sale of 130,000 tonnes of soft red winter wheat to unknown...

  • Republicans said on Sunday they expected Congress to pass a tax code overhaul this week, with a Senate vote as early as Tuesday and President Donald Trump aiming to sign the bill by week's end. John Cornyn, the No. 2 U.S. Senate Republican, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that he was "confident" the Senate would pass the legislation, "probably on Tuesday."

  • *China grants $500 m for projects including airport, school. GWADAR, Pakistan Dec 17- China is lavishing vast amounts of aid on a small Pakistani fishing town to win over locals and build a commercial deep-water port that the United States and India suspect may also one day serve the Chinese navy. "The concentration of grants is quite striking," said Andrew Small, an...

  • BEIJING, Dec 18- New home prices in China extended another month of steady growth in November, after picking up slightly in October, shrugging off a range of government moves to rein in an overheated property market. Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 0.3 percent in November from the previous month, in line with October's price gains, Reuters...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 17- Republican U.S. Senator John McCain is expected to miss an upcoming vote on a tax code overhaul, after his office said he had returned to his home in Arizona following medical treatment. The Senate is expected to vote as early as Tuesday on tax legislation.

  • TOKYO, Dec 18- Tokyo prosecutors have raided the headquarters of at least two of Japan's biggest construction firms for alleged antitrust violations linked to $80 billion worth of magnetic levitation train line projects. Shimizu Corp and Kajima Corp were raided early on Monday morning, spokesmen for the two companies separately said. A spokeswoman for the...

  • MCCAIN HAS RESPONDED WELL TO TREATMENT FOR A VIRAL INFECTION, ALSO RESPONDING POSITIVELY TO ONGOING TREATMENT FOR CANCER- DOCTOR AT NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH.

  • *Vietnam selling up to 54 percent in Sabeco. *Vietnam trade ministry set to conduct auction on Monday. Ho CHI MINH CITY/ SINGAPORE, Dec 17- Thai Beverage, through a local unit, emerged as the only bidder keen to buy all shares on offer of Vietnam's top brewer Sabeco worth nearly $5 billion, as Vietnam conducts an auction on Monday in its biggest privatization process.

  • SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN HAS GONE BACK TO ARIZONA, LOOKS FORWARD TO RETURNING TO WASHINGTON IN JANUARY- MCCAIN'S OFFICE.