Seoul, South Korea
International stock markets snapped two days of declines today but gains were tempered by worries about the plunge in oil prices and renewed doubts about Greece's membership of the euro currency bloc. Futures point to a higher opening on Wall Street. Oil is nearing a six-year low. Benchmark U.S. crude fell to just above $47a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.
- WASHINGTON (AP) - The Commerce Department later this morning reports figures on international trade for November. The U.S. trade deficit fell slightly in October with exports rebounding as oil imports dropped to the lowest level in five years. Through October, the deficit was running 4.8 percent below 2013 levels. Also today, the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its December interest-rate meeting, after which it said it will be "patient" in deciding when to raise interest rates.
- BRUSSELS (AP) - Official figures show the eurozone is in deflation as consumer prices fell in December due mainly to plunging energy costs. Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, says that prices in what was then the 18-country eurozone were 0.2 percent lower in December than the previous year. The main reason behind the slide from the 0.3 percent inflation rate recorded in November was the plunging oil price, which is being passed on to consumers at the pump. The decline was bigger than anticipated.
- LAS VEGAS (AP) - France's economy minister is expressing concern about economic side-effects in Europe from sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis but says they can't be lifted "without a change on the Russian side." In an interview in Las Vegas, Emmanuel Macron says Europeans should work together to pressure Russia for a solution. He also says he's "surprised" at reports that the British economy is now bigger than the French. Macron says his country's tax regime is becoming internationally competitive now that it has dropped a 75-percent tax on high earners.
- SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Parts of Southeast Asia are suffering slow Internet connections after an undersea cable linking the region to the U.S. was cut earlier this week. Viettel Mobile, Vietnam's largest mobile service operator, says repairs to the cable, located in the Vietnamese section of the 20,000-kilometer system, will take from three weeks to one month and depends on weather conditions. The cable is part of the system linking Southeast Asian countries with the United States through Guam and Hawaii. The cause of damage was unknown.
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