BRAZIL

Central Bank Robbed of $67 Million

Burglars robbed Brazil's central bank of $67.3 million by digging a tunnel into the bank's vault in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, police said. The thieves then opened five boxes of currency the bank's circulation department was examining for wear. Officials discovered the theft when they reopened the vault, which had been closed for the weekend.

Trade Surplus Forecast Raised

Brazilian economists raised their estimate for the country's trade surplus this year for the fifth time in six weeks after exports of soybeans, machinery and other goods surged. The economists predicted the trade surplus will widen to $38 billion this year from $33.7 billion last year and $24.8 billion in 2003.

ITALY

Standard & Poor's Cuts Credit Outlook

Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook for Italy's credit to negative from stable, citing increased risks to public finances, such as low growth and the failure of politicians to address economic problems ahead of 2006 general elections. The ratings service thinks the government's 2005 deficit target of 4.3 percent of gross domestic product is realistic but said progress remained "more doubtful," with the 2006 budget deficit likely to hit 5 percent of GDP.

JAPAN

Economic Growth Forecast Raised

The Japanese economy is likely to grow 1.8 percent this year, as Asia's biggest market is "positioned to sustain an expansion" despite cooling in the economy from a year ago, the International Monetary Fund said.

Because of the growing economy, the District-based lender cautioned Japan to cut back on its deficit, which grew in the past decade as Japan tried to spur along its flagging economy.

OIL

Kerr-McGee to Sell North Sea Operations

Kerr-McGee is selling its North Sea oil operations for $3.5 billion, as it moves to reduce debt incurred in a stock buyback and to focus on properties with the greatest growth potential. Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk is buying the majority for $2.95 billion. Britain's Centrica is buying four fields for $566 million. The company also plans to sell some oil properties in the Gulf of Mexico, while it accelerates drilling activities in the Rockies. The deal is subject to approval by British and European Union authorities.

Compiled from news service reports.

The central bank in Fortaleza was robbed by thieves who tunneled into the vault in the biggest bank heist in Brazil's history.