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European Stocks Open Higher Despite French Recession

Leading European stock markets opened on a firm note on Friday, despite the announcement of a mild recession in France and a warning about banks by ratings agency Fitch.

In London, the FTSE 100 index showed an opening gain of 29.04 points or 0.54 percent to 5,429.89 points, in Frankfurt the DAX index firmed 33.83 points or 0.59 percent to 5,764.45 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 index advanced 11.68 points or 0.39 percent to 3,010.41 points.

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Spain Demands Compensation from EU in Fishing Row

Spain said Thursday it will ask for compensation from the EU after the European Parliament cancelled a deal allowing EU trawlers, mainly from Spain, to fish in Moroccan waters.

"I am going to ask for compensation for the damage to Spain's fishing fleet," said Spain's Farm, Environment and Fisheries Minister Rosa Aguilar, who was in Brussels for talks on fishing.

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World Stocks Mixed Amid Uncertain Economic Picture

Asian stocks fell Thursday as Japanese business confidence and Chinese manufacturing both slipped, but European shares rose as data showing the region's economic output contracted less than anticipated.

Benchmark oil rose to near $96 per barrel after a big slide the day before while the dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.

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Coke Pays $1 Billion for Share of Saudi Drinks Firm Aujan

Coca-Cola said Wednesday it would pay $980 million for a stake in Saudi soft drinks producer Aujan Industries, expanding its footprint the fast-growing Gulf non-alcoholic beverage sector.

Coke will take a 50 percent share of Aujan, which produces juices under the Rani brand and Barbican, one of the leading brands in the non-alcoholic beer market.

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OPEC Picks Iraq to Be its President in 2012

OPEC said on Wednesday that its member countries had chosen Iraq to be its president in 2012, taking over from Iran at the head of the cartel.

"The conference elected Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, minister of oil of Iraq and head of its delegation, as president of the conference for one year, with effect from 1 January 2012," OPEC said in a communiqué after its latest output meeting.

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Fiat Unveils New Panda, Symbol of Change

Italy's Fiat unveiled its new "Panda made in Pomigliano" on Wednesday at the southern Italian plant where workers last year were forced to accept tougher contracts to save their jobs.

"We answer sceptics, detractors and antagonists with facts," Fiat head Sergio Marchionne told journalists, boasting of a turn-around in productivity at Pomigliano, where production had shuddered to a near stand-still in 2008.

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Greece Losing 'Billions of Euros to Corruption'

Crisis-hit Greece is still losing billions of euros (dollars) to corruption in spite of efforts to stamp out graft and maximize the state's tax revenue, a report said on Wednesday.

The Ta Nea newspaper said that tax evasion cost Greece 13 billion euros ($17.4 billion) annually in lost revenue, citing remarks by experts and state officials at a conference on corruption on Tuesday.

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Venezuela Says OPEC Agrees Oil Output of 30 Million Barrels per Day

OPEC agreed on Wednesday to an oil output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day, close to its current level, with members cutting output to allow for higher supplies from Libya, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

"We are going to reduce the level of production of each country to open a space for Libya production," Ramirez told reporters at the end of OPEC's ministerial meeting, which he described as a "good" gathering.

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Spain Busts Huge Euro Forgery Network

Spanish police broke up one of the biggest forging scams in Europe, seizing 1.5 million euros ($2 million) in fake bank notes and arresting dozens of suspects, officials said on Tuesday.

"It is one of the biggest acts of forgery in Europe in terms of the quality and the amount of money printed," a statement from the national police said.

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Toyota Eyes Canadian Rare Earth Minerals

Toyota announced on Tuesday plans for a joint venture with a Canadian junior mining company to speed up the development of a rare earth elements mine in Quebec to supply Toyota hybrid and electric vehicles.

The Japanese auto maker said it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Montreal-based Matamec Explorations Inc. to collaborate to "fast track the development" of Matamec's Kipawa heavy rare earths deposit.

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