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Noble's woes raise specter of commodities meltdown

Market watchers worry key Asian player could become the next Glencore

TOKYO -- Once the shining star of Asia's commodities market, Noble Group is now facing trouble on all sides with a net loss for the January-March quarter, a stock price plunge, massive debt and harsh credit ratings downgrades.

The Hong Kong-based, Singapore-listed company announced May 11 a net loss of $129 million for January-March, compared with a $40.5 million profit a year earlier. The company suffered heavily from the decoupling of the Newcastle index, a spot benchmark for thermal coal, from the actual market.

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