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EU’s Barroso Says Time to Rethink Eurozone Rescue Plans

The head of the European Commission on Thursday urged national leaders to re-think the euro's financial defenses, after admitting debt contagion has now spread beyond the Eurozone periphery.

Jose Manuel Barroso urged in a letter to the 27 European Union leaders "a rapid re-assessment of all elements related to the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) and concomitantly the ESM (European Stability Mechanism)."

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Japan Intervenes in Currency Markets to Weaken Yen

Japan on Thursday took steps to weaken the yen in an effort to help safeguard the nation's post-quake recovery after the unit's recent surge towards a post-war high.

The government intervened unilaterally in currency markets to counter "one-sided" and "excessive" speculator-driven movements in the yen that it said threatened Japan's recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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Berlusconi Holds Economic Talks Under Market Pressure

Italy's leading trade unions and the main employers group presented Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with requests to boost economic growth at talks Thursday aimed at shoring up market confidence.

No details of the five-point plan were immediately available but Italy's main economic players last month asked for "a pact for growth" to fend off pressure from investors worried about high debt in the Eurozone’s third largest economy.

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AXA Says Profits Soar, Boosted by Exceptional Gains

French insurance giant AXA said on Thursday that first-half net profit had surged more than fourfold to 3.99 billion euros ($5.71 billion), beating forecasts as the company avoided being hit hard by a Greek debt charge.

AXA said its earnings were up 324 percent from the equivalent figure last year while analysts had expected a net profit of about 3.7 billion euros.

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Oil Prices Slide on Growth, Debt Worries

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, dragged down by concerns that demand will weaken due to slowing economic growth and the Eurozone debt crisis as traders awaited data on U.S. crude inventory levels.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, slipped 39 cents to $93.40 a barrel.

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Hitachi Mulls Ending Domestic TV Production

Japanese high-tech maker Hitachi said Wednesday it is considering shifting all television production to foreign outsourcing firms by March as part of a broad strategy to increase profitability.

Hitachi, whose products range from microchips to nuclear power equipment, has not made a final decision about the plan, a spokesman added.

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CEO Says P&G Preparing for Tough Economic Times

Procter & Gamble Corp. Chief Executive Robert McDonald says his company is preparing for a period of little or no economic growth in developed countries.

McDonald told reporters Wednesday in Singapore that he's concerned about the lack of growth in the U.S. He said his company's sales from October last year through to March this year in North America, Western Europe and Japan were flat.

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Standard Chartered Boosts Profits

Standard Chartered bank reported first half profits for the ninth consecutive year Wednesday and said it was successfully reaching out to burgeoning middle classes in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The bank reported a 20 jump in net profits to $2.5 billion, up from $2.1 billion the year before.

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U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Avert Debt Default

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved legislation to avert a disastrous debt default and cut trillions in government spending, sending the contentious bill to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Lawmakers voted 74-26 to pass the measure -- which cleared the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 269-161 margin a day earlier -- with just hours to spare before a midnight (0400 Wednesday) deadline.

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HSBC to Hire 15,000 in Emerging Markets by 2014

Global banking giant HSBC said Tuesday it would hire thousands of people in emerging markets by 2014 as it looked particularly to Asia's booming financial sector to power future growth.

"We are planning to hire up to 15,000 people in emerging markets over the next three years," the bank's Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told a press briefing in Hong Kong Tuesday.

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