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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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Asian Markets Lower on Europe Contagion Fears

Asian markets slipped again on Friday as traders grew increasingly concerned the Eurozone crisis will soon envelope larger economies after borrowing costs for France and Spain shot higher.

Tokyo finished 1.23 percent, or 104.72 points, lower at 8,374.91 and Sydney fell 1.91 percent, or 81.2 points, to end at 4,177 while Seoul finished 2.00 percent, or 37.50 points, lower at 1,839.17.

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Credit Suisse to Close Taiwan Bank Branch

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse plans to close its only bank branch in Taiwan amid the deepening Eurozone debt crisis, reports said Thursday.

The move entails shutting down the bank's fixed-income operations but it will continue to offer brokerage services, said the state Central News Agency, citing Financial Supervisory Commission head Chen Yuh-chang.

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EU Aiding Greece to Dig Out Unpaid Taxes in Swiss Banks

The European Union said Thursday it is helping Greece negotiate with Switzerland in a bid to claw back some the 60 billion Euros in unpaid taxes believed to be hidden in Swiss banks.

The first feedback from a team of European Commission experts seconded to Athens produced "few concrete steps" forward, said Horst Reinchenbach, the German head of a task force trying to help Athens reform its economy.

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Monti Says Future of Euro also Depends on Italy

New Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said Thursday that the future of the euro also depended on Italy during his first speech in parliament, in which he unveiled a plan to tackle the crisis.

"The future of the euro also depends on what Italy will do in the next few weeks," he said, adding that his new technocratic cabinet would implement "austerity measures" which would be balanced by "growth and equity."

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European Markets Drop Amid Bond Tension

Rising tension on Eurozone bond markets with record pressure on France and Spain hit stock markets on Thursday, as Germany warned Italy's new prime minister to move fast to avert even deeper crisis.

Investor sentiment was already under pressure after ratings agency Fitch warned overnight that US banks could be exposed if the Eurozone crisis intensified.

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