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Exxon Plans Major Us Investments Due To Tax Reform Ceo

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HOUSTON – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) plans to invest billions of dollars in the United States due in part to recently approved corporate tax rate cuts, the company’s chief executive said on Monday.

Darren Woods, head of the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, said in a blog post on the company’s website that Exxon expects to spend $50 billion in U.S. projects over the next five years. The company also is “actively evaluating” projects now in planning stages as a result of new tax and regulatory changes, he wrote. (exxonmobil.co/2DZKArF)

More than $35 billion of that amount is for projects not previously announced, according to company spokesman Scott Silvestri.

Exxon previously pledged tens of billions of dollars for U.S. refining, petrochemical and shale exploration efforts. Last spring, it laid out a $20 billion investment in its U.S. Gulf Coast chemical and oil refining operations through 2022.

The company also is increasing investment in its West Texas and New Mexico shale operations, and moving ahead on a $10 billion petrochemical complex with Saudi Basic Industries Corp in Texas.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a tax reform package last month that cut top corporate income rates to 21 percent from 35 percent and allowed for immediate expensing for capital costs of projects.

“The recent changes to the U.S. corporate tax rate coupled with smarter regulation create an environment for future capital investments,” Woods said, adding Exxon is reviewing “the impact of the lower tax rate on the economics of several other projects currently in the planning stages.”

Woods took over the top job in January 2017 after former chief Rex Tillerson resigned to become U.S. secretary of state.

Exxon is slated to report its quarterly results on Friday.

Shares of Exxon fell 1 percent to close Monday at $88.09 as oil prices CLc1 also fell.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams and Ernest Scheyder;

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Rarest White Diamond Ever To Be Sold In London

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LONDON – A flawless diamond, the size of a large strawberry, is expected to fetch a world record price when it comes to market at Sotheby’s in London this month.

Weighing just over 102 carats, the round, brilliant white stone is smaller than a 118-carat oval diamond sold in Hong Kong in 2013, which currently holds the record price per carat.

But Sotheby‘s, which also handled that Hong Kong sale, expects the smaller stone’s rarity and high quality will see it attract an even higher price.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“That (stone sold in Hong Kong) fetched $260,000 a carat, currently the world record for any colorless diamond. This one being a round brilliant cut – the asking price will be north of that,” Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Diamonds told Reuters.

The diamond is the only stone over 100 carats to have been given the highest grades in every criteria by the Gemological Institute of America, which judges a precious stone’s quality, Sotheby’s said.

It has not disclosed the asking price for the stone, which will be sold in a private sale.

(This story corrects weight of other diamond to 118, not 163, carats in second paragraph and specifies throughout this is private sale, not auction.)

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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Rarest White Diamond Ever To Be Auctioned In London

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LONDON – A flawless diamond, the size of a large strawberry, is expected to fetch a world record price when it goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London this month.

Weighing just over 102 carats, the round, brilliant white stone is smaller than a 163-carat oval diamond sold in Hong Kong in 2013, which currently holds the record price per carat.

But Sotheby‘s, which also handled that Hong Kong sale, expects the smaller stone’s rarity and high quality will see it attract an even higher price.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“That (stone sold in Hong Kong) fetched $260,000 a carat, currently the world record for any colorless diamond. This one being a round brilliant cut – the asking price will be north of that,” Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Diamonds told Reuters.

The diamond is the only stone over 100 carats to have been given the highest grades in every criteria by the Gemological Institute of America, which judges a precious stone’s quality, Sotheby’s said.

It has not disclosed the asking price for the stone, which will be sold in a private sale.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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Israeli Archaeologists Unearth 1800-year-old Mosaic

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CAESAREA, Israel – A 1,800-year-old mosaic of toga-clad men dating back to the Roman era has been unearthed in Israel, archaeologists said on Thursday.

The mosaic was discovered during the excavation of a building from the Byzantine period – some 300 years younger than the mosaic it was on top of – in the coastal city of Caesarea.

“The surprise was actually that we found two beautiful monuments from the glorious days of Caesarea,” Peter Gendelman, co-director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Reuters of the building and mosaic.

Caesarea was a vibrant Roman metropolis built in honor of Emperor Augustus Caesar by King Herod, who ruled Judea from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC.

Slideshow (5 Images)

The excavated portion of the mosaic, which the antiquities authority said was 3.5 meters by 8 meters in size, depicts three toga-clad men, as well as geometric patterns and an inscription in Greek, which is damaged.

If the mosaic came from a mansion, the figures could have been the owners, or if it was a public building, they may have been the mosaic’s donors or members of the city council, Gendelman said.

The mosaic was of a high artistic standard, with about 12,000 stones per square meter, the antiquities authority said.

Israel is undertaking the largest conservation and reconstruction project in the country in the Caesarea National Park, the antiquities team said. The project aims to reconstruct a Crusaders-era bridge.

Reporting by Rami Amichai; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London;

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