World Bulletin / News Desk
Venezuelan firefighters completely extinguished a blaze at the country's largest refinery on Tuesday, state oil company PDVSA said, following a blast that killed nearly 50 people in one of the most deadly oil industry accidents in decades.
The 645,000-barrel-per-day facility could restart operations on Friday, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Monday.
The explosion on Saturday at Amuay killed 48 people and helped pushed up U.S. fuel prices in markets that were already bullish because of a threat that Tropical Storm Isaac could disrupt refinery operations on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Traders say the impact on fuel markets may continue even after Amuay is up and running again. Tank farm accidents often cause problems with gasoline blending, which means PDVSA may have to boost imports.
Chavez said at the scene on Monday that he was creating a fund worth about $23 million to help pay for clean-up operations and replace homes destroyed by the pre-dawn blast.
It was one of the most deadly oil industry accidents in recent years, nearing the toll of the 1997 fire at India's Visakhapatnam refinery that killed 56 and topping the 2005 blast at BP Plc's Texas City refinery in which 15 people died.
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The September rate was revised to 9.9 percent from the 10 percent first given last month.
Many analysts had expected the producers' cartel to fail to reach a deal as major players like Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia remained divided ahead of the meeting.
The report, which collects views of economists, business contacts and others in the 12 Federal Reserve districts in preparation for the monetary policy meeting next month, noted improved retail sales and home construction in most regions.
If the cartel does not reach a deal to cut output, prices could fall below $40 a barrel
European air travel giant Lufthansa has been battling its own pilots over pay and conditions for more than two years.
Failure to get an accord on Wednesday could send oil prices tumbling and deal a further blow to the credibility of the 56-year-old Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Around midday, shares in Italian lenders Unicredit and Banco Popolare were down 4 percent compared with Friday's closing levels.
Officials on Friday's said the tie-up between the Hong Kong and Shenzhen markets will start on December 5.
The announcement comes as the country is gearing up for a key election next year, with the parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand right-left coalition keen to woo ageing voters.
The weak inflation data -- core prices excluding fresh food fell 0.4 percent from a year ago -- come several weeks after Japan's central bank pushed back the timeline for hitting its 2.0 percent inflation target.
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The Ifo's headline business confidence index reached 110.4 points in November, unchanged from the October reading, and the highest level since April 2014.
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Gross domestic product was expected to grow by only 1.4 percent next year -- sharply down from the prior estimate of 2.2 percent given in March.