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* Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asked the central bank to issue a decree that "strictly" fines violators who illegally use dollars and gold as payment in transactions, according to a statement on the government's website. He is urging the State Bank of Vietnam to issue the decree this month, which would also impose fines on those advertising or listing prices in dollars and gold.

* Car sales in Vietnam in the first quarter jumped 30 percent from the same period last year to 27,896 units, the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association said on Wednesday. Sales by the Vietnamese firm Truong Hai, which assembles vehicles including South Korean KIAs, exceeded Toyota's for the first time, reaching 3,085 units in March, up 29.9 percent from a year ago.

* Vietnam Technological & Commercial Joint-Stock Bank, known as Techcombank, expects pretax profit to rise 46 percent to VND4 trillion (US$191.30 million) this year, it said in a statement posted on its website. Total assets are expected to increase 21 percent to VND182 trillion, it said. Techcombank expects total outstanding loans to rise 20 percent and total deposits to gain 29 percent to VND63.5 trillion and VND140 trillion respectively.

* A group of companies including Premier Oil Plc said they found gas and condensate off southern Vietnam. Two tests were carried out on the so-called Oligocene section of the CRD-2X appraisal well on Vietnam's Block 07/03, according to Australia's Pan Pacific Petroleum NL, which has a 5 percent stake in the area. A unit of Pitkin Petroleum Plc has a 40 percent stake and Premier, the operator, has 30 percent.

* Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, known as VNPT, may cut its stake in Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Co., or Mobifone, to less than 20 percent, online newswire VnExpress reported, citing an unidentified official. The report didn't provide any timeframe.

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