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AP Financial News Summary at 6:44 a.m. EDT

September 25, 2006

Oil Prices Plunge Below $60 a Barrel

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SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil prices fell below $60 a barrel for the first time in six months Monday amid signs of growing petroleum inventories and after BP PLC said it had received permission to restart the eastern half of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Wall Street Awaits Slew of Economic Data

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Investors who were tripped up last week by a dour manufacturing survey will be able to pore over a slew of economic data in the coming week to either confirm or belay their concerns that economy is slowing too quickly.

Heads of Nissan, GM to Meet This Week

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TOKYO (AP) _ Carlos Ghosn, the head of Nissan Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. CEO Richard Wagoner plan to hold talks this week in Paris, Kyodo News agency said Monday, citing unidentified sources close to negotiations.

Toyota’s Global Output Keeps Climbing

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TOKYO (AP) _ Toyota Motor Corp., on pace to overtake General Motors as the world’s biggest automaker, said Monday its global production rose 17.3 percent in August, the 22nd straight monthly gain.

Top Shanghai Leader Removed From Office

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SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ Shanghai’s top leader was dismissed Monday for alleged corruption, the highest level official to be axed in more than a decade as President Hu Jintao moves to consolidate his power.

Report: China Bank IPO Expected in Oct.

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HONG KONG (AP) _ Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the mainland’s largest bank, plans to launch its initial public offering _ expected to be the world’s biggest ever _ on Oct. 27 in Hong Kong and Shanghai, a report said Monday.

Ad Agencies Look to Recruit Minorities

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Why, city officials demanded, were there virtually no black staffers at New York’s elite advertising agencies? The year was 1968. Agencies’ executives vowed to fix the problem. They didn’t. Now, under steady pressure from advocates and the threat of public embarrassment by city officials, they’ve renewed those promises.

Japan Stocks Lower; Dollar Down Vs. Yen

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TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese stocks were lower at midday Monday, with market sentiment dampened by Wall Street’s losses Friday. The dollar was down against the yen.

Gas Prices See 3rd Straight 2-Week Drop

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CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) _ U.S. retail gas prices dropped nearly 24 cents a gallon in the past two weeks, the third consecutive decline since a mid-August peak, according to a survey Sunday.

Retiree Health Care May Overwhelm Gov’ts

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The bill is coming due for years of generous benefits bestowed upon the nation’s public employees, and it’s a stunner: hundreds of billions of dollars over the next three decades, threatening some local governments with bankruptcy and all but guaranteeing cuts in services like education and public safety.

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