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China allows gold imports via Beijing, sources say, amid reserves buying talk

By A. Ananthalakshmi SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China has begun allowing gold imports through its capital Beijing, sources familiar with the matter said, in a move that would help keep purchases by the world's top bullion buyer discreet at a time when it might be boosting official reserves.

From lab to kitchen, 'wonder' nanomaterial

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material -- the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen. Thus far, graphene has proven elusively hard to manufacture on an industrial scale. Methods have required a choice between high quality graphene in small quantities, or large batches with defects. A team from England and Ireland, however, reported on Sunday they had used a blender to make microscopic sheets of graphene.

China government survey shows 16 percent of its soil is polluted

BEIJING (Reuters) - A nationwide investigation has shown that as much as 16 percent of China's soil contains higher-than-permitted levels of pollution, the environment ministry said on Thursday. China is desperate to tackle the impact of rapid industrialization and urbanization on its food supplies, with the aim of maintaining self-sufficiency and reducing its dependence on grain imports amid soaring demand.

Crude oil remains near US$104 a barrel despite huge rise in US stocks

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Oil rose just a penny Wednesday as worries about upheaval in Ukraine offset the dampening effect of a huge increase in U.S. oil supplies. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery closed at US$103.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for June delivery, a benchmark for international varieties, closed at US$109.36 in London. The May contract expired Tuesday at US$108.74 a barrel.

Oil prices advance on Ukraine, weak dollar

Global oil prices rallied on Wednesday on Ukraine tensions and the weak dollar, and before weekly crude inventories data in top consumer the United States. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery, hit $104.82 a barrel -- the highest level since early March. Brent North Sea crude for June rallied to a similar one month peak at $110.20 a barrel.

S. Korea blanketed by fine dust, alert issued

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- A thick layer of fine dust blanketed South Korea on Wednesday, prompting the capital Seoul to issue this year's first warning against the particles and urge people to stay indoors. According to the data by the Korea Meteorological Administration, Seoul's atmospheric concentration levels of "particulate matter (PM)-10" pollutants recorded 227 micrograms per cubic meter as of 1 p.m., reaching the "very bad" level.

Oil prices fall on looming restart of Libyan exports

Crude oil prices fell modestly Tuesday under pressure from signs Libya is about to resume oil exports, while Russia-Ukraine tensions acted to curb selling. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, fell 30 cents to close at $103.75 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for May closed on the contract's final day of trade in London at $108.74 a barrel, down 33 cents from Monday. Traders focused on Libya, where a government deal with rebels last week was close to allowing crude oil exports from two terminals for the first time in eight months.

Manufacturing sales regain peak hit before last recession: StatsCan

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales rose 1.4 per cent to $51.2 billion in February. The agency says that's the highest sales level recorded since July 2008, the peak that was reached before the last recession began. It says the February gain was largely attributable to higher sales in the transportation equipment industry and the petroleum and coal product industry. Transportation equipment sales rose 4.3 per cent to $8.9 billion, while sales in the petroleum and coal product industry increased 2.9 per cent to $7.5 billion.

Chinese gold demand may rise 20% by 2017: industry body

China's annual demand for gold could jump around 20 percent by 2017 as more of its increasingly wealthy population seek new ways to make money, the World Gold Council predicted on Tuesday. The forecast by the WGC comes after China became the world's largest gold-consuming nation in 2013, overtaking India. Annual demand for gold in the form of jewellery, coins and bars is set to hit "at least 1,350 tonnes by 2017", the WGC said in a report on China. That would represent a rise of nearly a fifth from the country's record consumption of 1,132 tonnes last year.

Scotiabank raises outlook for price of nickel following Indonesian export ban

OTTAWA - Scotiabank is raising its outlook for the price nickel following an Indonesian export ban on unprocessed ore that took effect earlier this year. Nickel prices have been rising following the Indonesian ban that was enacted in an attempt to encourage foreign investment in ore processing in the country. "While the export ban was announced more than 4 years ago with an unchanged starting date of January 2014, few market observers, including ourselves, believed that Indonesia would have the resolve to stick with this agenda," Scotiabank said in a report Monday.
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