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Pfizer Asked to Stop Selling the Painkiller 'Bextra'

Here is a look at business highlights for this week, including new worries about painkillers, higher gasoline prices, and more bickering over international trade. VOA Economics Editor Jim Randle has the story.

U.S. health officials asked drugmaker Pfizer to stop selling the painkiller "Bextra" because of concerns that the risks of using the drug outweigh the benefits.

The drug is used by millions of arthritis sufferers.

Officials also asked makers of drugs similar to Bextra to strengthen warnings of possible cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says high oil prices could eventually boost oil inventories, and "damp the current price frenzy."

Crude oil prices hit a record high above 58 dollars this week.

A new report says U.S. motorists -- who are already paying record-high gasoline prices -- will see even higher prices in the next few months because of rising demand and soaring crude oil prices.

Thursday's report from the U.S. Energy Department says gasoline will probably hit a record two dollars and 35 cents a gallon in May.

That works out to about 62 cents a liter.

China is protesting a European Union move to limit Chinese textile imports.

Under E.U. guidelines textile import increases of between 10 and 100 percent could trigger investigations and might bring quotas.

Chinese officials say the move violates World Trade Organization principles.

Meantime, the U.S. garment industry is asking Washington to curb Chinese imports.

The World Bank says the Latin American and Caribbean region grew nearly six percent in 2004, the strongest growth in 24 years.

The bank attributed the region's growth to strong world demand for its exports, high commodity prices and low international interest rates.