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The price of crude oil for January delivery appeared likely to close at about $49 a barrel Monday as traders anticipated one of the deepest cuts in production in OPEC history. At its scheduled meeting Wednesday in Algeria, the cartel is expected to lower output by at least 2 million barrels a day to try to put upward pressure on prices, which have plunged by 65 percent since spiking in July. Some analysts, however, questioned whether member countries have the discipline to abide by a new, lower quota.

In a reversal of Thailand's recent political protests, supporters of the ousted government went on the offensive Monday, smashing car windows and shoving police as Parliament voted to hand the prime ministership to opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. But analysts predicted that Abhisit will have little room to maneuver because of his narrow majority in the legislature, which is considered likely to thin even further next month when voters go to the polls to fill 29 vacant seats.

Amid colorful ceremonies, cargo ships from Taiwan and mainland China sailed for each other's ports Monday as the rivals formally ended an almost 60-year ban on direct transportation links. The resumption also included commercial airline and postal service. The resumption means flights no longer must detour through Hong Kong's airspace and shipping won't have to stop first at Okinawa.


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