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Petrol Prices – Economic Growth – Driveshaft Accident – NSW Flooding – Middle East Conflict – Florida Recount

- PETROL PRICES: Rocketing petrol prices are biting into household budgets, looking set to be up over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Two more major oil companies have increased their petrol and diesel prices, following BP’s announcement yesterday. More Kiwis will stay at home for Christmas. The low New Zealand dollar is also keeping New Zealanders at home over Christmas. The cost of petrol is 30% higher than last year. Camping grounds are booking out as people look for cheap holiday options.

- ECONOMIC GROWTH: The Paris based economic watchdog OECD says strong exports boosted by the low dollar will boost growth in New Zealand.

- DRIVESHAFT ACCIDENT: Auckland police are investigating whether some Mitsubishi trucks need to be recalled, after a freak accident yesterday where a truck’s driveshaft fell apart, flew off and killed another motorist driving the other way. Manufacturing could be behind the accident, but human error in servicing is another possibility. Police expect to know in a few days what caused the accident

- NSW FLOODING: Parts of New South Wales Australia have been hit by some of the worst flooding in 40 years and are being declared a natural disaster area. More rain is forecast in the next 24 hours.

- MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: The United States is urging both Israelis and the Palestinians to reign in the violence, after Israel attacked Gaza with missiles today in retaliation for a bomb blast on a school bus, that is being blamed on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Fatta Party, although Mr Arafat has denied responsibility. The latest violence brings the death toll for the past two months to 245, mostly Palestinians.

- FLORIDA RECOUNT: Seven judges held a crucial hearing in the Florida Supreme court today, to decide whether hand counts of ballots in the state of Florida can be considered in the final count to decide whether Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore wins the state. A ruling could be made by tomorrow. A poll showed most Americans believe hand counted votes should be included.

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