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Oil Rises on Weak Dollar, Despite IEA Demand Downgrade

Oil prices rose Wednesday on the weaker dollar and mostly positive global data as traders ignored news that the International Energy Agency had cut its estimate for demand growth in 2012, traders said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in February, increased 60 cents to $101.31 a barrel.

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Crucial Debt Talks to Resume in Athens

Global bank representatives are due back in Athens to restart debt talks later Wednesday with the government in negotiations that are crucial to avoid a disastrous default.

The heads of the Institute of International Finance, a global banking association, are to return after negotiations stalled last week.

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Merkel to Open Davos Forum in Switzerland

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will headline an annual elite gathering of government and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland later this month to address the debt crisis that has gripped global markets for over two years.

Organizers said Wednesday that Merkel will deliver the opening address at the forum at which 2,600 leaders are expected to attend.

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World Bank Cuts Global Economic Forecasts

The World Bank slashed its global economic growth forecasts and warned that rich nations' debt problems may yet reap a crisis that would eclipse the tumult of 2008.

Citing weakness across the globe, the Washington-based lender projected global growth of 2.5 percent in 2012 and 3.1 percent in 2013 -- sharply lower than previous estimates of 3.6 percent for both years.

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China and UAE Sign Energy Cooperation Agreement

China's Sinopec clinched a "strategic" energy cooperation agreement with the UAE's state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the official WAM news agency reported Tuesday.

The agreement, inked on the sidelines of an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates capital, came two days after Saudi state oil giant Aramco inked a deal with the Chinese company to build an oil refinery in the Red Sea city of Yanbu that will process some 400,000 barrels per day.

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Eurozone Won't Break Up, says EU Bailout Fund Chief

The Eurozone will not break up despite the debt crisis sweeping the currency bloc, the chief executive of the European Union bailout fund said Tuesday.

Klaus Regling, head of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), also said that a ratings downgrade by Standard and Poor's on Monday will have limited impact on the fund.

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Standard & Poor's Downgrades EU Bailout Fund to AA+

The Standard and Poor's ratings agency downgraded the EU bailout fund EFSF by one notch to AA+ but said it would restore the top AAA ranking if the fund obtains additional guarantees.

The decision was the result of downgrades to France's and Austria's ratings from AAA since they served as top-level guarantors of the European Financial Stability Facility, S&P said in a statement.

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China Backs Eurozone to Overcome Debt Crisis

China said Tuesday it believes Europe can overcome its economic difficulties, after Standard & Poor's cut the sovereign debt ratings of nine Eurozone countries and the region's bailout fund.

The wave of downgrades, including that of France's triple-A status, underscored European leaders' inability to come up with a solid plan to tackle their two-year-old debt crisis.

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World Stocks Mixed after Europe Credit Downgrades

World stocks were mixed Monday after a ratings downgrade rattled Europe and crucial talks aimed at nudging Greece toward solvency were mired in disagreement.

Benchmark oil prices rose above $99 per barrel and the dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.

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Iran Bans Foreign Currency Trading on The Street

The deputy governor of Iran's central bank says trading in foreign currency outside of banks or licensed money changing operations is forbidden.

The announcement by Ehrahim Darvish on state radio Monday marks the latest step by the government to curb the steep depreciation pressures on the Iranian rial, which has shed roughly 40 percent of its value against the dollar since December 2010.

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