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BP’s pockets are jingling as assets sold

BP’s recent $1 billion sale of its Carson refinery in Southern California is the latest move in what has become perhaps the biggest corporate garage sale in history, as BP seeks to raise cash and slim down its global operations by divesting $38 billion in assets before the end of 2013.

It looks like the sale is going well. Two years in, the London-based oil major has received $26.5 billion for assets already sold, leaving about $11 billion to go to reach its target. The company has said its goal is to keep assets with which it can create the highest value and generate the most profit, and sell off the rest. The divestment strategy began in mid-June 2010, when BP was faced with funding a $20 billion trust it set up to pay expenses related to the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which followed the blowout of BP’s Macono well.

Sales have included all its upstream interests in Colombia, Venezuela, and Vietnam, and a range of assets in the North Sea, Canada and the United States.

—Emily Pickrell, Houston Chronicle

Philippine economy set to become Asia’s newest bright spot

MANILA, Philippines — In the upscale business district of Manila, a midweek crowd spills out into the street. The New York-themed Borough restaurant is pulsating to the beat of a Bon Jovi song, while young, hip Filipinos take shots of tequila from a passing tray and sing in unison.

The revelers have reason to celebrate. Times are pretty good in the Philippines if you are young, skilled and live in the city. Indeed, young urban workers are helping give the country its brightest prospects in decades, economists say.

In fact, with $70 billion in reserves and lower interest payments on its debt after recent credit rating upgrades, the Philippines pledged $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help shore up the struggling economies of Europe.

The Philippines has certainly seen a steady flow of positive economic news recently. On July 4, Standard & Poor’s raised the country’s debt rating to just below investment grade, the highest rating for the country since 2003 and equivalent to that of Indonesia.

The Philippines is the 112th-largest economy in the world today, according to HSBC estimates. But if current trends hold, it can expect to leap to the No. 16 spot by 2050. The Philippine stock market, meanwhile, one of the best performers in the region, closed at a record high after the recent S&P rating upgrade.

—Floyd Whaley, The New York Times

Aspirin may aid recovery for men with prostate cancer

Men treated for prostate cancer who took aspirin regularly for other medical conditions were less likely to die of their cancer than patients who weren’t taking aspirin, according to a study published Tuesday in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In the new study, researchers used the national database of a project known as CaPSURE, for Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor, to look at nearly 6,000 men who had localized prostate cancer and were treated with surgery or radiotherapy. Just more than one-third of the men, or 2,175 of the 5,955, were taking anticoagulants, mostly aspirin.

Those taking aspirin were less than half as likely as those who were not to die of prostate cancer over a 10-year period, researchers calculated; the prostate cancer death rate for those taking aspirin was three percent, the researchers found, compared with eight percent for those who did not.

—Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times