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AP Executive Morning Briefing

June 20, 2006

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Tuesday, June 20, 2006:

Bank of Japan Chief Apologizes for Scandal

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s central bank chief apologized Tuesday for an investment scandal that has set off calls for his resignation, and said the bank has set up a committee to review rules for its officials’ assets. Gov. Toshihiko Fukui also said he would not step down and wanted to complete his job. His term runs through March 2008.

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AP: Police Got Phone Data From Brokers

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans’ personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers. These brokers, many of whom advertise aggressively on the Internet, have gotten into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and even acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents gathered by congressional investigators and provided to The Associated Press.

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China Pharmaceuticals Appeal Viagra Ruling

BEIJING (AP) _ Twelve Chinese pharmaceutical companies are appealing a court ruling that sides with Pfizer Inc. and prevents local drug makers from selling generic versions of Viagra, a state-run newspaper said Tuesday. The companies filed the appeal Monday at Beijing’s High People’s Court, calling for the reversal of the June 5 decision by a lower court to uphold Pfizer’s patent for the impotence drug, the China Daily said.

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Japan Closer to Lifting Ban on U.S. Beef

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan moved closer to lifting a ban on U.S. beef imports as officials from the two countries were to hold a teleconference later Tuesday to discuss conditions of resuming shipments, a Japanese health official said. The two sides are expected to reach an agreement on Japan’s lifting of beef import ban at the teleconference, Kyodo News agency reported.

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Oil Prices Down Despite Threats to Iran

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Crude futures dipped slightly Tuesday, little changed from the $69 a barrel mark seen in recent days, despite President Bush’s threats to Iran that nations worldwide will not back down from their demand that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment. Concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions have not abated, on mixed signals from Tehran over the program. Traders, meanwhile, are concerned that Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, might reduce its oil exports as a result of its showdown with the West over its nuclear program.

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PCCW Gets Offer for Telecom, Media Assets

HONG KONG (AP) _ Hong Kong phone company PCCW Ltd. said Tuesday it has received an offer to buy its telecommunications and media assets, with newspapers reporting that the potential buyer, Australia’s Macquarie Bank Ltd., has put up 40 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.2 billion; euro4.1 billion) for the possible deal. PCCW, controlled by Richard Li, the younger son of tycoon Li Ka-shing, said in a statement it received a ``nonbinding expression of interest″ on Friday. The offer was to buy ``substantially all the telecommunications and media-related assets of the company.″

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Foreclosures May Jump As ARMs Reset

NEW YORK (AP) _ In 2003, Anita Britten refinanced her two-story brick cottage in Lithonia, Ga. using a hybrid adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM. Her lender reassured her that she could refinance out of the riskier loan into a traditional one when her interest rate started to reset. Three years later, Britten can’t get a new mortgage and her monthly payment has jumped by a third in six months. She can’t afford her payments and may face foreclosure if her financial situation doesn’t change.

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Key House Lawmaker Reveals Estate Tax Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House’s top tax writer revealed a proposal Monday to reduce taxes on inherited estates and rewrite a quirky law that repeals the tax for only one year. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., introduced the bill after Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee asked House GOP leaders for help reducing the estate tax before this fall’s midterm elections.

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IWC: Oil Exploration Could Harm Whales

FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts (AP) _ Blasts from undersea airguns fired by boats searching for oil could harm whales and should be studied further, said a report unanimously endorsed Monday by the International Whaling Commission. Repeated bursts of air cause high levels of underwater sound that could affect whales’ migration and mating patterns, the report said. It also noted that there might be a connection between the sound waves and humpback whale strandings.

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Japanese Stocks Fall for a Second Day

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese stocks fell for a second day Tuesday as technology, financial and real estate issues in light trading as investors held back ahead of next week’s U.S. central bank meeting. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 211.94 points, or 1.43 percent, to finish at 14,648.41 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Monday, the index dipped 0.13 percent.

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Gold Prices

HONG KONG (AP) _ Gold closed at $569.0 an ounce on Tuesday in Hong Kong, down $3.0 an ounce from Monday’s close of $572.0.

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Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese stocks fell for a second day Tuesday, led by technology, financial and real estate issues in light trading as investors held back ahead of next week’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.

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Dollar-Yen

TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar rose in Asia Monday as worries that North Korea may test-fire a long-range missile sent the Japanese currency lower.

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

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