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Updated: Dec 1 2012, 01:57am hrs
EU to launch free trade negotiations with Japan

EU trade ministers agreed on Thursday to start negotiations to create a free-trade area with Japan, overcoming resistance from European carmakers who fear a deal might damage their industry. We have a deal, said an EU official close to the negotiations. An accord between Europe and Japan would bring together two trading partners responsible for a third of global economic output and could create 400,000 jobs in Europe alone. France and Italy have been worried about the impact on their carmakers.

Obama, Romney to meet at White House

President Barack Obama will host his former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the election. Obama promised in his victory speech earlier this month to engage with Romney following their bitter campaign and consider the Republicans ideas. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward, Obama said at the time. Obama aides said they reached out to Romneys team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting. The two men will meet in the White Houses private dining room, with no press coverage expected.

Mitsubishi Heavy, Hitachi to join power businesses

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi are to combine their thermal power businesses to compete against overseas rivals Siemens and General Electric, which are winning deals even in the Japanese firms backyard. The deal, in which Mitsubishi Heavy will take 65% in a new company, also revives Hitachis efforts to absorb some of its local rivals infrastructure business to give it the scale to expand beyond a stagnant home market. The announcement comes more than a year after the two firms called off talks to merge their infrastructure businesses. Talks to combine the thermal power businesses began late this summer. The new company, with Hitachi taking the remaining 35%, will bring together the two firms gas turbine and other fossil-fuel power generation equipment businesses, and will be completed by January 2014.

First Chinese co abandons ailing B-share market

A marine firm delisted from Chinas ailing B-share market on Thursday, the first company to ever do so, in a step that regulators hope could lead to the winding down of a once-vibrant market that is now an illiquid and speculative backwater. China International Marine Containers (Group) (CIMC), a state-run container manufacturer, took down its B-share ticker on Thursday in preparation for a relisting in Hong Kong. The unusual move could make it easier for other viable companies to do the same.

Japanese automakers China output tumbles

Chinese vehicle production from Toyota and other major Japanese automakers tumbled in October; amid a territorial dispute between the two Asian powers which led to boycotts of Japanese products in China. Toyota Motor said on Thursday that its Chinese output plunged 61% to 30,591 vehicles, its third straight monthly decline. We have adjusted the production to meet the current level of demand in China, said Dion Corbett, spokesman for Toyota. Although, he declined to comment on the reason. Chinese output of Nissan Motor sank 44% to 61,360 vehicles while production from Honda Motor declined 54% to 26,302 vehicles, the companies said. Sales of Japanese automobiles have plunged in China since the Japanese government in September nationalised a cluster of tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China that are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing.