METALS-Copper drops on China worries, faces 9 pct July loss LONDON, July 31- Copper and most other base metals extended their downtrends on Friday on persistent worries about demand in top consumer China, leaving copper facing its biggest monthly loss since January. Investors remained on edge about demand in top metals consumer China, after an official warned that risks from a slowing economy must not morph into social...
| By: Eric Onstad
UPDATE 1-German retail sales surge, biggest first-half increase in 20 years *Spending in shops up 2.5 percent in first half. *Annual retail sales soar by 5.1 percent in June. BERLIN, July 31- German retail sales recorded their strongest first-half increase in at least 20 years, data showed on Friday, strengthening expectations that private consumption will be a major growth driver for Europe's largest economy this year.
| By: Michael Nienaber
UPDATE 1-BG Group's record output limits oil price fallout LONDON, July 31- BG Group's second-quarter earnings nearly halved as it took yet another hit from persistently weak crude prices though record oil and gas production limited the damage. Growth in the second quarter was driven by Australia and Brazil, where volumes in both more than doubled to an average of 80,000 barrels per day in Australia and 143,000 for...
| By: Ron Bousso
UPDATE 1-China stock regulator probes market impact of automated trading SHANGHAI, July 31- China's securities regulator on Friday said it is investigating the impact of automated trading on the market, as Beijing intensifies pressure on its financial industry in the wake of a share-price plunge. It appears Beijing is trying to reinforce the "national team" of brokerages and banks that have pledged to buy and hold shares until...
| By: Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney
UPDATE 3-Japan spending slump heightens chance of Q2 contraction *Tokyo core CPI marks first annual fall since April 2013. TOKYO, July 31- Japan's household spending unexpectedly fell and inflation stalled in June, heightening the chance the economy may have contracted in April-June and casting doubt on the central bank's view growth will rebound solidly in the current quarter. "If the BOJ were to ease this year, it will...
| By: Leika Kihara
INTERVIEW-Marathon: Alkylation can satisfy higher octane demand HOUSTON, July 30- U.S. motorists are using more "premium" high-octane gasoline as low oil prices led to cheaper fill-ups at the pump. But even if prices rebound, octane demand will keep growing in the long term as fuel economy standards strengthen, Marathon Petroleum Corp Chief Executive Gary Heminger said on Thursday. Valero Energy Corp, the largest independent...
| By: Kristen Hays
UPDATE 1-Facebook says drone ready for real-world testing later this year MENLO PARK, Calif., July 30- Facebook Inc announced on Thursday it has completed building its first full-scale drone, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 and will provide Internet access to the most remote parts of the world. The company said it will test it in the United States later this year. The plane will weigh about 880 pounds, said Yael Maguire, the company's...
| By: Yasmeen Abutaleb
UPDATE 2-OPEC says oil should not fall further, sees stability in 2016 *Russia, OPEC did not discuss coordination. *OPEC received no request for extraordinary meeting. Oil has dropped about 15 percent this month and halved in value in the past year but neither OPEC nor Russia, the world's top producer, have cut output to support prices, hoping cheaper oil will hit U.S. shale and other rival sources.
| By: Katya Golubkova and Denis Pinchuk
UPDATE 4-With no sign of oil price rebound, Shell wields axe again *Shell cuts 2015 capex by another $3 bln to $30 bln. LONDON, July 30- Royal Dutch Shell is to axe 6,500 jobs this year and step up spending cuts as it seeks to reassure investors it can withstand an extended period of lower oil prices, even through its planned $70 billion acquisition of BG Group. Like rivals BP, Statoil and Total it announced reductions in capital...
| By: Ron Bousso and Karolin Schaps