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LONDON: Brent crude oil struck a three-month peak yesterday on the back of the weak dollar, upbeat German data and growing global economic optimism, but pulled lower in late afternoon deals as dealers took profits. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March hit $113.84 per barrel — the highest level since mid-October. It later stood at $113.17, down 11 cents from Thursday’s closing level. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for March or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), shed 24 cents to $95.70 a barrel. The greater optimism came as weekly data from the US Department of Energy pointed to a larger build of oil stockpiles than expected. The results showed a gain of 2.8 million barrels, whereas analysts had predicted an increase of 1.7 million barrels.
US new home sales rise to 3-year high
WASHINGTON: Sales of new US single-family homes rose last year to the highest level since 2009, a sign the troubled US housing market has turned a corner. Americans bought 367,000 new single-family homes in 2012, up 19.9 percent from the prior year, the Commerce Department said yesterday. Sales hit a nearly three-year high in November, before pulling back somewhat in December, it said. The housing sector has been a point of strength in the economy over the last year, and Friday’s data reinforced expectations it will help offset the economic damage from tax hikes enacted this year. Momentum appeared to be growing in the US economy at the close of 2012, helped by consumer spending. A measure of future US economic growth from the Economic Cycle Research Institute picked up last week to its highest level since April 2011.
Major world tea growers set up forum
COLOMBO: Six major tea-growing nations have formed an international organisation to promote and develop the commodity and ensure its production is sustainable, officials said yesterday. India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, Rwanda and Sri Lanka, which together account for more than 80 percent of black tea output, formed the International Tea Producers Forum (ITPF) at a meeting in Colombo. “We hope to look at the common interest,” said Mahinda Samarasinghe, the plantation industries minister for Sri Lanka, the first secretariat for the group.
Women took more boardroom seats in ’12
BRUSSELS: Female representation in company boardrooms took an appreciable step forward in 2012, the European Union said yesterday. With gender equality being pushed by EU managers as a priority issue, new figures published by the European Commission showed that women held 15.8 percent of company directorships in January 2013. That was up from 13.7 percent in January last year. Agencies