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Lebanon and Israel started talks on Wednesday over their disputed sea border. The talks were mediated by the US, which has pushed for years for negotiations to resolve the argument over potentially gas-rich Mediterranean waters. After a meeting that lasted just under an hour, the two sides agreed to meet again in two weeks. The talks come after the UAE and Bahrain agreed to establish full relations with Israel, under US-brokered deals which realign some of Washington’s closest Middle East allies against Iran. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Thai youth push for reforms

Thousands of young anti-govt protesters in Thailand marched towards the PM’s office in Bangkok to continue to press their demands for a new constitution, reforms in the monarchy, and the resignation of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha
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Thousands of young anti-govt protesters in Thailand marched towards the PM’s office in Bangkok to continue to press their demands for a new constitution, reforms in the monarchy, and the resignation of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha

Thousands of young anti-government protesters in Thailand marched towards the Prime Minister’s office in Bangkok on Wednesday to continue to press their demands for a new constitution, reforms in the monarchy, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Protesters have been demonstrating for three months despite the pandemic, and made a rare direct challenge to the king, Maha Vajiralongkorn, on Tuesday, chanting at his passing convoy after 21 activists were arrested during scuffles with police. September witnessed the biggest anti-government demonstration with tens of thousands gathering to demand change. The standoff has revived fears of trouble in a country that suffered a decade of street violence between supporters and opponents of the establishment before a 2014 military coup that installed Prayuth and gave the king more powers.

Future defaults on bond payments

Kishore Biyani’s Future Enterprises failed to pay interest on some of its bonds this week in another sign that businesses are yet to recover from effects of the pandemic
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Kishore Biyani’s Future Enterprises failed to pay interest on some of its bonds this week in another sign that businesses are yet to recover from effects of the pandemic

Kishore Biyani’s Future Enterprises failed to pay interest on some of its bonds this week in another sign that businesses are yet to recover from effects of the pandemic. The company was unable to service interest payments amounting to 151.4 million that were due on Monday on two of its local-currency notes, Future Enterprises said in an exchange filing late on Tuesday. The company had also missed paying obligations due last month, and another group firm sought to defer debt obligations, Bloomberg reports. The retailer is the latest among at least 17 companies that haven’t serviced principal or interest on rupee notes this year, highlighting broader stress in the corporate sector. The RBI stepped up stimulus measures again this month after the economy slumped and as banks struggle with the world’s worst bad loan ratio.

Rising gold prices curb imports

Gold imports dip
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Gold imports dip

The festival season is here, but gold demand has not yet taken off in India, the world’s second largest bullion consumer. Gold imports slumped in September after a short-lived rebound as high prices prompted buyers to defer purchases. Imports fell 38% in September from a year earlier to 8.4 tonnes, and were down from 35.5 tonnes in August (see chart), Bloomberg reports. Gold imports rose in July and August as jewellers readied stocks ahead of the festival season. But demand has cooled as buyers hold off on purchases, hoping that prices will decline from an all-time high. Consumption may also pick up ahead of Diwali, which falls in November. India’s imports in the first nine months of the year are down about 70% to 158 tonnes, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Another trial paused for safety

The race for medical breakthroughs to contain the covid-19 virus slowed as Eli Lilly halted tests of its antibody treatment a day after J& J paused a vaccine trial because a volunteer got sick
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The race for medical breakthroughs to contain the covid-19 virus slowed as Eli Lilly halted tests of its antibody treatment a day after J& J paused a vaccine trial because a volunteer got sick

The race for medical breakthroughs to contain the covid-19 virus slowed as Eli Lilly halted tests of its antibody treatment a day after Johnson & Johnson paused a vaccine trial because a volunteer got sick. About a month ago, AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial was paused in the US after two volunteers fell ill. Eli Lilly has said it is pausing its trial of an antibody therapy for covid-19 because of a “potential safety concern." Drugmaker Pfizer plans to start testing its experimental vaccine in children aged 12 in the first coronavirus vaccine trial in the US to include children. Meanwhile, new research confirms that many covid-19 infections could be missed through poor technique when patients are swabbed for tests. Researchers at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin assessed the technique of 229 staff members and found it was poor, with a success rate of just about 38% for nasal samples.

China's Golden life is back

After being housebound for over nine months, 637 million people travelled during China’s Golden Week national holiday from 1 to 7 October
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After being housebound for over nine months, 637 million people travelled during China’s Golden Week national holiday from 1 to 7 October

After being housebound for over nine months, 637 million people travelled during China’s Golden Week national holiday from 1 to 7 October. Hotel prices shot up, air ticket sales rose, ride-hailing apps crashed, tickets to the Great Wall sold out, and retail and restaurant spending exceeded last year’s. More than 600,000 couples married in the first wedding season since the pandemic began. The culture ministry said people spent $69.5 billion during the week-long celebration to mark the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949. The surge of activity is in stark contrast to the rest of the world. OECD and IMF have forecast growth for China, even as they predict gloom for other economies. China hasn’t reported local virus infections since 15 August, and has eased most restrictions. Experts say China will have to wait 2-3 weeks to see if new cases emerge. If there is no spike, it will indicate China is moving into a post-Covid period.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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