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AP Executive Morning Briefing

January 9, 2006

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Monday, January 9, 2006:

CNOOC Announces $2.3B Nigeria Investment

BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese state-controlled oil company CNOOC Ltd. said Monday it is paying $2.3 billion for a 45 percent stake in a Nigerian oil field. The move is CNOOC’s first major investment since its failed attempt to take over U.S. oil company Unocal Corp. last year.

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Boston Scientific Stands by Guidant Bid

BOSTON (AP) _ Boston Scientific Corp. on Sunday made a definitive $25 billion offer for rival medical device maker Guidant Corp., standing by an earlier proposal that aims to scuttle a standing but smaller bid for Guidant from Johnson & Johnson. Boston Scientific’s offer is largely in line with its initial Dec. 5 proposal. But the latest proposal from the No. 1 maker of drug-coated heart stents includes a new and related $4.3 billion deal in which the Natick, Mass.-based company will sell Guidant’s vascular intervention and endovascular businesses to Abbott Laboratories Inc. if its Guidant acquisition is successful.

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New Year Could Bring Economic Changes

WASHINGTON (AP) _ People may feel less inclined to be big spenders this year as the housing market slips from its lofty perch, developments seen as producing slower, though still respectable, economic growth this year. That is the picture emerging from economists, most of whom are projecting growth to top 3 percent in 2006.

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BASF Begins Takeover Bid for Engelhard

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ German chemical company BASF AG said Monday it had begun its $4.9 billion hostile takeover of Engelhard Corp. in a bid to increase its global materials production. Ludwigshafen-based BASF signaled its intent last week when it said its efforts over the holidays to approach the company with a friendly takeover offer were rebuffed.

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Oil Prices Hover Above $64 a Barrel

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Oil prices rose Monday, hovering above $64 a barrel, and natural-gas futures dropped amid a mild start to winter in the United States. Gasoline prices also eased but analysts suggested that relatively mild U.S. temperatures would keep demand high and stocks tight.

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Automakers Making Push Into Crossovers

DETROIT (AP) _ Dampened by high gas prices, the auto industry has faced tough times selling large sport utility vehicles lately. But with demand still high from families wanting plenty of space, carmakers may have an antidote: the crossover. Crossovers such as the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V, built on car platforms that give motorists more of a car-like ride, are expected to outsell traditional SUVs in 2006 for the first time.

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China Revises 2004 Economic Growth Rate

SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ China has revised its 2004 economic growth rate to 10.1 percent from 9.5 percent following the recent completion of an economic census, the National Statistics Bureau reported Monday. China’s gross domestic product grew a feverish 9.8 percent for all of 2005, the official Xinhua News Agency reported earlier, citing the National Development and Reform Commission. That estimate, issued just after the New Year, likely will be revised when official data are released months later.

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‘January Effect’ May Be Hard to Keep Up

NEW YORK (AP) _ If one is to believe Wall Street lore, the first five trading days of a new year can predict the course of trading for the entire year. But while stocks had an outstanding showing last week, it’s still far too early to start counting your returns. According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, the so-called ``January Effect″ is startlingly accurate. The last 35 times that the first five days of trading resulted in a net gain for stocks, stocks posted full-year gains in 30 of those years _ 85.7 percent of the time.

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SUVs, Pickups Rate Poorly in Rear Crashes

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Head restraints in several sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks poorly protected test dummies from neck injuries in a simulated rear crash at 20 mph, the insurance industry reported Sunday. Only six of the 44 SUVs but not one of the 15 pickups tested earned top scores for their seat and head restraints.

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Debate Swirls As Wind Power Grows Rapidly

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Giant windmills _ on scenic mountain ridges, prairie grass and even an Indian reservation _ are spinning an unusual debate that is dividing leading environmentalists. Wind power grew rapidly in 2005, becoming more competitive as natural gas prices jumped and crude oil prices reached record highs. Improved technology, a federal tax credit and pressure on utilities to use clean energy sources helped fuel the growth from coast to coast.

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Gold Prices

HONG KONG (AP) _ Gold closed at $542.00 an ounce on Monday in Hong Kong, up $13.20 an ounce from Friday’s close of $528.80.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ The Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed Monday in observance of Coming-of-Age Day, a national holiday. It will reopen on Tuesday.

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A service of The Associated Press. Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.

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