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France's Top Credit Rating at Risk, Moody's Warns

An increase in French government borrowing costs, slowing growth and the Eurozone debt crisis threatens the country's top credit rating, Moody's ratings agency warned on Monday, adding to market jitters.

France is fighting desperately to retain its 'triple 'A credit status and has slashed spending and tightened up on tax revenues in an effort to stabilize its strained public finances but the markets are not convinced.

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Egypt Bourse Down 4% after Deadly Clashes

Egypt's stock exchange tumbled 4.04 percent on closing on Monday, as deadly clashes between police and protesters threatened to overshadow the first parliamentary polls since Hosni Mubarak was toppled.

The main EGX-30 index dipped to 3,860.99 points -- a drop of 4.04 percent -- as clashes raged into a third day in Cairo's Tahrir Square between security forces and protesters demanding the end of military rule.

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Spain's New Leader Faces Wrath of Markets

For the leader of Spain's right, Mariano Rajoy, winning Sunday's elections may prove to be the easy part: now he has to win over the markets.

Rajoy will have to show he can trim Spain's bulging budget, and quickly, or risk the same fierce financial pressures that forced governments in Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy from power.

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McDonald's Drops Egg Supplier over Cruelty Charges

McDonald's Corp. said Friday it has dropped a Minnesota-based egg supplier after an animal rights group released an undercover video of operations at the egg producer's farms in three states.

The video by Mercy for Animals shows what the group calls animal cruelty at five Sparboe Farms facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado. Its images include a worker swinging a bird around by its feet, hens packed into cramped cages, male chicks being tossed into plastic bags to suffocate and workers cutting off the tips of chick's beaks.

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China to Make Yuan More Flexible

Premier Wen Jiabao told U.S. President Barack Obama that China would increase the flexibility of the yuan while stressing that reforms had already had an effect, state television reported Saturday.

"We are closely watching the changes to the yuan's exchange rate ... and will encourage the yuan's flexibility in both directions," CCTV quoted Wen as saying at a meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Indonesia.

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Report: Italian Aviation Authority Chief Arrested

The head of Italy's civil aviation authority ENAV and the sales chief of a subsidiary of aerospace group Finmeccanica were among three people arrested Saturday in a probe into money laundering, reports said.

The arrests follow raids a year ago on the headquarters of ENAV and Finmeccanica subsidiary Selex Sistemi Integrati, targeting possible corruption and tax evasion in ENAV's awarding of contracts.

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EU, India to Work 'Full Steam' on Free Trade Pact

The European Union and India will work at "full steam" in talks due to start next week on clinching an ambitious free trade pact ahead of a February deadline, the EU said Saturday.

India has been in discussions with the EU, its biggest trading partner, since June 2007 to liberalize trade in goods, services and investment through a free trade agreement.

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Spending up Just 2% in 'Austerity' EU Budget

The EU's 27 national governments and the European Parliament agreed Saturday to limit spending to 129 billion euros ($174 billion) in the 2012 budget, up two percent from 2011, the Polish EU presidency said.

The agreement -- described by Europe's budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski as an "austerity budget" amid the spiralling debt crisis -- defied the preference of the bloc's parliamentarians for bigger spending.

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Greek Budget Promises to Slash Deficit

Greece promised to slash its deficit in a 2012 budget unveiled Friday thanks to a planned debt deal with banks, but warned of a deeper than expected recession next year as austerity measures bite.

The blueprint was published as auditors from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund visited Athens for negotiations on a debt rescue deal brokered by the Eurozone last month.

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Oil Prices Edge Higher Before Weekend

World oil prices rose on Friday ahead of the weekend, but gains were capped by intensifying concern over the impact of the Eurozone debt crisis on global energy demand.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in December, added two cents to $98.84 a barrel.

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