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Anadolu Agency

LONDON — Brazil lost 1.54 million jobs in 2015, officials said Thursday, as the country’s economy continues to contract amid the worst recession in a generation.

Industrial, civil construction and services sectors were worst affected, according to statistics issued by Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment, which represent the worst result in 24 years.

Labor Minister Miguel Rossetto admitted 2015 had been a “difficult” year. “It is not a good result. We saw a reduction in jobs and average salaries, but the victories of previous years have been preserved as the level of jobs remains high,” Rossetto was quoted by local media as saying.

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Anadolu Agency

LONDON — Brazil’s economy will shrink by nearly 3 percent in 2016, according to estimates published Monday in a weekly central bank survey of 100 of the country’s economic institutions.

Gross domestic product in Latin America’s largest economy will contract by 2.95 percent in the thirteenth consecutive cut in the outlook for 2016.

The predictions are more than previously expected by economists, as economic output and confidence continue to dwindle amid a prolonged political crisis.

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SÃO PAULO — Joaquim Levy stepped down as Brazil’s finance minister on Friday evening, ending months of speculation over his role. He was replaced by former planning minister Nelson Barbosa, who is seen as closer to leftist President Dilma Rousseff.

Levy was a proponent of tough fiscal measures which he backed to lift Brazil out of the worst recession it has experienced in 25 years.

His appointment and fiscal adjustment plans had been warmly welcomed by the markets, and was widely seen as an attempt by the government to draw greater confidence in the Brazilian economy from investors.

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SÃO PAULO — A São Paulo court ordered Brazil’s mobile operators to block messaging service WhatsApp for two days after the app — Brazil’s most popular — repeatedly ignored demands to comply with a criminal case.

[UPDATE: The suspension was lifted on Thursday afternoon following an order from São Paulo justice tribunal.]

WhatsApp was suspended at midnight in Brasília (02:00 GMT) this Thursday, with users confirming the outage on social media as operators released statement that they were complying with the court order.

In São Paulo, some users said the service, which has nearly 1 billion users worldwide, had already been suspended before midnight.

Local media in Brazil, including the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, reported that the 48-hour suspension was ordered by a court in São Bernardo do Campos, a municipality located immediately south of São Paulo city, after WhatsApp refused to share data of a suspect relating to a drug trafficking trial.

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Houston Chronicle – by Mihir Zaveri, Susan Carroll and Ben Tavener

HOUSTON/SÃO PAULO — Sandwiched between U.S. and Texas flags, the Brazilian banner waves outside a set of discolored tanks and pipes at the site of a Pasadena refinery. A sign marked “PRSI” – for Pasadena Refining System Inc. – hangs over chain link fence with razor wire that surrounds the compound that dates back nearly a century.

From her porch, Hilda Perez and neighbor Lorie Soliz can see that refinery across a grassy field and train tracks – its glowing flares and sulfurous fumes are familiar. Both friends remember four years ago when an explosion there rocked the neighborhood and a giant flame rose into the sky. “There’s always something going on over there,” said Soliz, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1992.

But they didn’t know that their hometown refinery – owned by Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras – has become a flashpoint in an explosive political scandal abroad.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — Brazil is back in recession after official figures announced Friday showed Latin America’s largest economy contracted 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

Figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, the IBGE, said the economy had shrunk by 1.9 percent between April and June, after contracting a revised 0.7 percent in the first quarter of the year – itself significantly worse than the result previously announced of -0.2 percent.

A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The second-quarter figures represent a contraction of 2.6 percent year-on-year – the fifth consecutive negative figure for this comparison.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — British banking giant HSBC announced Tuesday that it will close its retail banking operations in Brazil, as part of a global overhaul of its workforce that could cut up to 50,000 jobs worldwide.

Currently the sixth largest high street bank in Brazil, HSBC employs 21,479 people in the South American country, according to the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, with 853 branches focusing operations on higher earners.

HSBC plans to sell off its branches and end retail operations by the end of 2016, but will retain a “modest” operation in Brazil to service its largest corporate clients’ international needs.

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Press TV

SÃO PAULO Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang have signed $53 billion of agreements in a range of areas, including infrastructure, agriculture and energy, in what is being hailed as a new era in Sino-Brazilian relations.

The new wave of Chinese investment in Brazil has come at an opportune moment, as the Brazilian economy continues to struggle and a vast corruption scandal at Petrobras bears down on both the political world and the country’s top construction companies.