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Signs of the Times for Wed, 13 Sep 2006

By Doug Palmer
Tue Sep 12, 2006
WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit widened sharply in July to a record $68 billion, as oil import prices, and demand for foreign goods and services rose to new highs, a government report showed on Tuesday.

The trade gap swelled 5 percent from June for the biggest month-to-month gain in nearly a year, surprising Wall Street analysts who had expected surging oil prices to only slightly widen the deficit in July.

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Phillip Inman
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian
Debt campaigners gave warning yesterday that a growing number of borrowers were unable to meet their mortgage repayments, with many of them first-time buyers who only recently climbed onto the property ladder.

Citizens Advice said about 770,000 people had missed one or more mortgage repayment in the past year. Nearly two million said they were concerned that their finances may not stretch to cover their monthly debts.

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Wednesday 13 September 2006, 13:52 Makka Time, 10:52 GMT
A Saudi oil executive has challenged the idea that supplies are running out, saying that just 18 per cent of the global supply of crude has been tapped.

Abdallah S Jumah, president and CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Company, better known as Aramco, said the world has potentially of 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves - enough to last 140 years at current levels of consumption.

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By Timothy Gardner
September 12, 2006
NEW YORK - Oil extended losses for the seventh consecutive session on Tuesday, retreating to under $64 a barrel after Iran sounded a softer note on its atomic program and OPEC agreed to keep production steady for now.

U.S. light crude for October delivery settled $1.85 lower at $63.76 a barrel, the lowest level since March 22, and the longest losing streak in nearly three years. London Brent crude fell $1.56 to $62.99.

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John Hooper in Rome
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian
More than a hundred Poles, lured to Italy by the promise of work, have disappeared there, according to the website of the Polish police. It is feared some were murdered while working as virtual slave labourers in the tomato fields of Puglia.

In July, 25 people were seized in a joint operation by Italian and Polish police after an inquiry revealed that thousands of Poles had been hired to work on farms described by Italy's chief organised crime prosecutor as "out and out concentration camps". Polish police said workers were fed on little more than bread and water, forced to labour for up to 15 hours a day, paid virtually nothing and beaten by guards.

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PARIS, Sept 12, 2006 (AFP)
Thousands of gas and electricity workers took part in demonstrations across France Tuesday against a government bill currently being debated in parliament to privatise the state-owned Gaz de France (GDF).

Around 20 percent of workers at GDF stopped work for the day, alongside 16.5 percent of workers for the electricity provider EDF, management said.

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