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On 10th Anniversary, Euro Takes Blame for Economy

Just three years ago, the euro was being praised as the can-do currency that had delivered unprecedented prosperity in Europe.

Now, it's widely derided as a hugely flawed experiment in the wake of a debt crisis that's threatening its very existence — an uncomfortable backdrop as the currency's notes and coins hit their first decade in circulation on Jan. 1.

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Oil Prices Rise on Mideast Tensions

Oil prices edged higher Thursday in volatile trading in New York, boosted by geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and better-than-expected U.S. economic news.

New York's main contract West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for February delivery, finished at $99.65 a barrel, an increase of 29 cents from Wednesday's close.

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Mercedes, BMW Vie for U.S. Luxury Car Crown

In a first, two German manufacturers -- Mercedes-Benz and BMW -- are dueling for the honor of being the top luxury brand sold in the United States.

With the champion of the past 11 years, Toyota's Lexus, hobbled by the fallout from Japan's March 11 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear meltdown disaster, the two Teutonic giants are going at it head-on to snatch the crown, a highly visible symbol of automotive supremacy.

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Libya to Review Contracts with Italian Oil Major ENI

Libya on Thursday said it will review its contracts with Italy's ENI and insisted the oil major participate in reconstructing cities destroyed by Moammar Gadhafi's forces in the conflict.

The decision to review the contracts was communicated to the Italian firm's Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni on Wednesday by Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib during a meeting, the statement from Kib's office said.

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Nikkei Closes at Lowest Year-End Level Since 1982

Japan's headline Nikkei-225 index Friday finished 2011 at its lowest year-end level for almost three decades, with analysts warning the outlook for the New Year remains poor.

The Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange shut up shop at 8,455.35, down 17.34 percent, or 1,773.57 points, from the 2010 close of 10,228.92, with the March 11 earthquake and tsunami taking its toll on share prices.

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Chinese Traders Hit by Death of N. Korea's Kim

Truck drivers and traders in China's border city of Dandong said Thursday trade with North Korea had slowed to a trickle following the death of leader Kim Jong-Il earlier this month.

Kim died on December 17 from a heart attack at the age of 69, and North Korea has imposed an official mourning period that culminated Thursday with a massive memorial service.

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Italy Business Confidence Index Falls in December

Italy's business confidence index fell this month following a tough Christmas season for retailers, the official data agency Istat said in a statement on Thursday.

The index was at 92.5 points compared to 94 points last month, Istat said, adding that the declines was due to concern among business owners on the forecasts for production and future orders.

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Asian Markets, Euro Slip as Europe Fears Weigh

Asian markets mostly fell on Thursday and the euro slipped as concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis refused to abate, ahead of an auction of long-term Italian debt later in the day.

With trading light due to the Christmas holidays, Asia also had little cue for direction from Wall Street and Europe despite Rome enjoying a successful sale of short-term bonds on Wednesday.

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Central Bank Says Spain Economy Shrinks in Final Quarter of 2011

Spain's economy shrank in the final quarter of 2011, battered by financial market tensions and a deteriorating global economic outlook, the Bank of Spain said Thursday.

The grim report fed widespread fears that Spain has already slumped into a recession after the economy, dragged down by a 21.5-percent jobless rate, posted zero growth in the third quarter of 2011.

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Asian Markets Edge Down on Europe Fears

Asian markets mostly slipped on Wednesday as unease over the eurozone debt crisis overshadowed a strong rise in consumer confidence in the United States.

On the first full day of trade after Christmas eyes were on Italy, which will hold a debt auction later amid weakened confidence after lenders in Europe deposited a record amount with the central bank rather than lend to each other.

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