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By David Lewis and Aaron Ross KINSHASA (Reuters) - The task of preventing Democratic Republic of Congo’s political crisis from spiralling into fresh conflict falls to the country’s Catholic Church, one of the few institutions to emerge from decades of turmoil with its credibility intact. The role as mediator of last resort illustrates the clout of the Church in Congo – home to some 30 million faithful – where Catholic leaders have long gone beyond their pastoral duties to fill the void left by an absent state, providing healthcare and schooling, and promoting human rights and democracy. In October, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila appeared to have secured the backing of regional leaders for an African Union-mediated deal with some opposition leaders to remain in power until April 2018, a year and a half after his second and last term in office ends.
The U.S. trade deficit recorded its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years in October as exports of soybeans and other goods dropped, suggesting that trade would be a drag on growth in the fourth quarter. Exports contributed 0.87 percentage point to the third quarter's 3.2 percent annualized rate of increase in gross domestic product. The jump in exports in the last quarter largely reflected a surge in soybean shipments after a poor harvest in Argentina and Brazil.