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Hard Money, Soft Standards? Tough Questions for China's New Bank

China scored a diplomatic coup by enticing almost 50 countries including key U.S. allies to join its new development bank, but analysts say authoritarian Beijing now faces a daunting task managing a multilateral institution for the first time, with members ranging from the Netherlands to Nepal.

By Tuesday's deadline to seek founding membership of the $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) a total of 48 countries and Taiwan had applied, the finance ministry and governments said.

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Amazon Japan Starts Selling Electric Cars

First it was books, then household products; now you can buy an electric car from online shopping giant Amazon.

The Japanese unit of German auto giant BMW on Wednesday started selling its i3 electric models on Amazon.co.jp

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Syria Slashes Imports to Save Dwindling Foreign Reserves

Syria's government, presiding over an economy ravaged by war and facing dwindling foreign currency reserves, is taking new measures to slash imports and prop up exports.

Importers require government licences that allow them to request a favorable exchange rate at the Syrian central bank.

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Russia Steps in as Job Losses, Closures Ravage East Ukraine

The year-long conflict in east Ukraine has closed businesses across this industrial heartland, ramping up unemployment, crippling finances and leaving it ever more reliant on Moscow. 

Fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels has ravaged a region that once provided 25 percent of the nation's exports and has shorn Kiev of a vital source of foreign currency, seeing the Ukrainian economy contract sharply. 

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Oil Prices Fall in Asian Trade

Oil prices fell in Asia Wednesday after Russia and Iran's foreign ministers claimed a breakthrough in talks over Tehran's controversial nuclear program that could ease sanctions on the crude producer. 

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery eased 15 cents to $47.45, while Brent crude for May fell five cents to $55.06 in afternoon trade. 

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EU President: Greek Debt Deal 'Possible' but not before Easter

A new Greek bailout deal is possible before an end-April deadline but it will not come before Easter, EU president Donald Tusk said Tuesday.

Experts from the IMF and the EU are scrutinizing a list of economic reforms proposed by Athens in a bid to unlock another 7.2-billion euros ($7.8-billion) in loans to stave off possible bankruptcy.

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Turkey Growth Slackens to 2.9% in 2014

Turkey's economic growth weakened last year to 2.9 percent, well down on 2013 and creating worries for the Islamic-rooted government ahead of June legislative elections, official data showed on Tuesday.

Gross domestic product increased by 2.9 percent in 2014 from the year earlier, well behind the government's official target of 3.3 percent, the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK) said on its website.

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Euro Falls on Jitters over Greece Debt Deal

The euro drifted lower in Asia on Tuesday with investors following talks between debt-hit Greece and its international creditors as Athens looks to reform its bailout obligations.

In Tokyo, the single currency slipped to $1.0790 and 129.69 yen, from $1.0825 and 130.10 yen in New York, while the dollar was at 120.17 yen against 120.18 yen.

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Oil Prices Edge Lower as Iran Nuclear Deadline Approaches

Oil prices fell in Asia Tuesday as dealers monitored last-ditch efforts between global powers and Iran to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear program and ease sanctions imposed on the crude producer. 

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 69 cents to $47.99 while Brent eased 55 cents to $55.74 in mid-day trade.

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Japan Not currently Planning to Join China-led Bank

Japan has no plan as of now to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, its government spokesman said Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Japan is still seeking answers about how the regional financing institution would be governed.

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