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* Vietnam on Wednesday reduced prices of oil products following a recent decline in global oil prices. The most popular grade, 92-octane gasoline, now retails at VND23,300 per liter after a VND500 cut. The government has also increased the import tariffs on gasoline and diesel from zero to 2 percent.

* India, the largest rice grower after China, is poised to rival Vietnam as the world's biggest shipper, ending Thailand's 30-year reign, after favorable weather and higher government prices boosted the harvest to a record. Exports may climb to 7 million tons in the year ending August 31, said Samarendu Mohanty, a senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute. That's more than double the 2.8 million tons shipped in 2010-2011, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Vietnam will export 7 million tons and Thailand 6.5 million tons, USDA data show.

* Vietnam's State Securities Commission will from September 4 reduce to two days from three days the minimum period buyers must hold shares after purchase, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Vietnam newspaper reported, citing Nguyen Son, head of market development at the commission.

* Vietnamese business conditions "continued to be weak" in April, said Trinh D. Nguyen, a Hong Kong-based economist for HSBC Holdings Plc. "Domestically, conditions are tough due to tightened credit and limited access to capital," Nguyen said at a press conference in Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday. Foreign demand for products made in the country is robust, Nguyen said, citing indications of improving economic outlooks for China and the US. The pace of growth in Vietnam's gross domestic product is likely "to pick up in the coming quarters," Nguyen said.

* Liquidity of the banking system has "clearly improved" since October, central bank governor Nguyen Van Binh said in a statement on the State Bank of Vietnam's website. He expected mergers and acquisitions among commercial banks to increase in near future. "Many domestic and foreign investors have shown interest in investing in Vietnamese banks, including in weak lenders," he said.

* Saigon Hanoi Bank has secured shareholder approval to merge with Hanoi Building Commercial Joint Stock Bank to form one of the top ten lenders by assets in Vietnam, Lao Dong newspaper reported.

* The Ministry of Construction plans to introduce a new rule that requires residential developers to set aside at least 10 percent of their projects to build apartments for rent. For major cities, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, the requirement will be 15 percent, according to a plan submitted to the prime minister last week. The rule is expected to be applied to housing projects that cover 10 hectares of land or more.

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