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Updated: Nov 22 2012, 08:25am hrs
Japan logs 4th straight trade deficit in October

Japan logged its fourth straight monthly trade deficit in October as the European debt crisis and strained business ties with China over a territorial dispute reduced exports. The ministry of finance said Wednesday that imports exceeded exports by 549 billion yen ($6.7 billion), the biggest deficit for October since at least 1979, when the ministry began keeping comparable records. Exports for the month fell 6.5% from a year earlier to 5.150 trillion yen ($62.9 billion), while imports slipped 1.6% to 5.699 trillion yen. For years, Japan ran huge trade surpluses, which frequently caused trade friction with the US.

Japans Abe says strong economy tops his agenda

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that he will spearhead economic recovery and strengthen Japan's military if his party regains control in elections next month. We will recover Japan, Abe said as he issued his campaign platform at a news conference at his party headquarters in Tokyo. We will rebuild the economy. Abe promised to achieve 3% nominal economic growth through intensive reform programmes over the next five years. He also set a 2% inflation target, promising to use bold monetary policy to get the country out of deflation. Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament Friday, paving the way for elections. His ruling party is expected to give way to a weak coalition government divided over how to tackle Japan's myriad problems.

China goes austere on bank executives perks

China will ban executives from state-owned banks and financial companies from spending extravagantly on cars and houses, state news agency Xinhua said, in Beijings latest effort to clamp down on corruption and official waste. The 12 regulations, issued jointly by the ministry of finance, the ministry of supervision and the national audit office, come after Communist Party chief Xi Jinping warned that the party risks major unrest and the collapse of its rule if corruption is allowed to run wild in China.They also come amid growing public anger over widespread graft.

Swiss bankers say assets not blunted by tax deals

The trade group for Swiss banks says their foreign assets account for just over half of the 5.3 trillion francs ($5.64 trillion) in assets they manage, despite pressure from other countries to clamp down on tax evaders. Swiss Bankers Association CEO Claude-Alain Margelisch says there has been no noticeable shift of foreign client money to other countries contrary to expectations that Swiss tax agreements might prompt huge withdrawals. Under pressure to shed its status as a tax haven for the untaxed assets of foreign clients, Switzerland has negotiated deals with countries such as Britain and Austria, whose agreements to collect tax revenues take effect on January 1.

EU regulators clear way for Glencore Xstrata tie-up

EU antitrust regulators have cleared commodity trader Glencores $32 billion takeover of miner Xstrata, agreeing to virtually seal the deal without requiring major asset sales. Sources familiar with the matter said the green light - set to be announced on Thursday - meant Glencore would end its zinc sales deal with producer Nyrstar. But it will not have to sell Xstrata's Nordenham zinc plant in Germany. The sources had said last week Glencore had offered up Nordenham, which produced 148,000 tonnes of zinc last year, but later discussions meant it avoided the forced disposal. No assets will be sold, one of the sources said. The European Union's competition worries had centred on zinc, used in metal alloys.