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Iran's Working Mums Face Sack after Maternity Leave

Tens of thousands of working mothers have been sacked in Iran since the start of 2014 because employers found cheaper staff, an official said Friday, warning that a new maternity pay policy remains unfunded.

The comments highlight the financial pressures on families and on the Iranian government, despite this month's nuclear deal with world powers that could pave the way for an economic rebound.

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Facing Default, Ukraine Gets Small Debt Write-off Offer

Cash-trapped Ukraine moved a step closer Friday to avoiding a devastating default thanks to a new offer that would see its creditors accept a small debt write-off.

The proposal that sources said was submitted by Franklin Templeton and three other U.S. financial titans to Kiev this week is still far short of the bond value reduction sought by the war-torn former Soviet state.

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New Generation of Skinny Skyscrapers Alters NY Skyline

Super tall, super skinny and super expensive: a new generation of New York skyscrapers, some taller than the Empire State building, are altering the world's most famous skyline.

And it's not just the masonry that's soaring to new heights. The prices have also gone stratospheric: three apartments sold recently for more than $100 million a piece.

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Swiss Central Bank Books Record Loss of 50 Billion Francs

Switzerland's central bank said Friday it lost a record 50 billion francs ($51 billion, 47 billion euros) in the first half of 2015, due mainly to the hefty depreciation of its foreign currency holdings.

The Swiss National Bank had been holding down the value of the franc for more than three years, but suddenly announced on January 15 that it was abandoning the minimum rate of 1.20 francs to a euro.

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Uber to Invest $1 bn on India Expansion

Controversial app-based taxi-hailing firm Uber plans to invest $1 billion in India over the next nine months, the company's local head said in a statement emailed to Agence France Presse on Friday.

Uber has endured a bumpy ride since it started operating in India two years ago, with a rape allegation against one of its drivers leading the New Delhi government to ban it.

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Lloyds Profits Rise Despite Further Mis-Selling Costs

Britain's state-rescued Lloyds Banking Group said on Friday that net profits rose by 31 percent in the first half, despite setting aside further funds for compensation for insurance mis-selling.

Earnings after tax rose to £874 million (1.245 million euros, $1.364 million) in the six months to June, and the company announced a dividend of 0.75 percent per share, amounting to £535 million.

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Ukraine Eyes September Debt Repayment Freeze

Ukraine's finance ministry warned Thursday it could declare a technical default in two months should its lenders fail to accept less stringent repayment terms and a possible partial debt write-off.

The war-shattered state's words of caution came on the eve of a crucial Washington meeting at which the International Monetary Fund is expected to back the release of a new payment that would keep Ukraine's $40-billion (37-billion-euro) global rescue package live.

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Santander Bank Reports Profits Surge on Britain, Euro

Europe's biggest bank by capitalization, Santander of Spain, said Thursday quarterly profits surged 17.2 percent to 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) on growth in markets including Britain and a weak euro.

Relatively unscathed by Spain's banking crisis due to its overseas operations, the group saw its business grow in its 10 "core markets," including in Spain's recovering economy, it said in a statement.

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Spain's Economy Maintains Fast Growth in Q2

Spain's economy expanded by 1 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three-month period, its best rate since before the economic crisis began in 2007.

It was Spain's eight consecutive quarterly growth figure.

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Syrian Kurds Refine Oil for themselves for First Time

Smoke rises as crude oil is heated in Rmeilan oil field of Syria's Hasakeh province, where the Kurds, having fought off jihadists, are extracting and refining oil for the first time.

Located in the middle of the desert in the northeastern province of the war-torn country, Rmeilan is Syria's largest oil field in terms of surface area.

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