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Latin America Mining Boom Clashes with Conservation

Latin America is experiencing a mining boom as prices rise fuelled by a hike in global demand, but the region is also being hit by a wave of violent protests, strikes and rallies by environmentalists.

"The number of conflicts is increasing, over water, over extensions of mining rights, over pollution of rivers, over the displacement of populations," said economist Jose de Echava, Peru's former vice minister of the environment.

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Japan Megabanks Rise in Credit Standings

The European debt crisis has helped Japanese banks rise in international credit standings as they remain relatively stable compared with their U.S. and European peers, a press report said Saturday.

US money market funds, which hold some $2.7 trillion of assets and invest in short-term securities, are increasing investment in Japanese banks, the business newspaper Nikkei reported.

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Tokyo Traders to Eye Greek Talks Next Week

Investors on the Tokyo stock market will be paying close attention to progress in talks to save Greece from bankruptcy next week, dealers said Friday.

At talks in Brussels between Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his 16 Eurozone counterparts, Athens was given until Wednesday to meet three conditions in return for 130 billion euros in aid.

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Oil Falls to Near $99 Amid Greek Bailout Talks

Oil prices fell to near $99 a barrel Friday in Asia as encouraging news about the U.S. economy was tempered by European demands for Greece to make further spending cuts before getting a new bailout.

Benchmark crude for March delivery was down 61 cents at $99.23 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.13 to settle at $99.84 on Thursday.

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Dented Economy Haunts Egypt a Year after Revolt

A year after Egypt overthrew Hosni Mubarak, the poor state of the once-growing economy of the Arab world's most populous nation poses a threat to its restive transition to democracy.

With an estimated growth rate of one to two percent -- compared with between five and seven percent in past years -- the government is looking to the International Monetary Fund and donors to fend off a possible social explosion.

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Lebanon Economy at Risk from Syria Unrest: IMF

The Lebanese economy is at risk from internal political uncertainty, spiraling violence in neighboring Syria and the Eurozone crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

These and other vulnerabilities including high government debt and an ongoing current account deficit saw gross domestic product (GDP) growth sink to an estimated 1.5 percent last year from 7.0 percent in 2010, said the IMF.

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ECB Holds Rates Steady

The European Central Bank held its key interest rates steady, as expected on Thursday, leaving Eurozone borrowing costs at historic low levels after cutting rates twice in recent months.

The ECB's policy-setting governing council voted to leave the rate for its main refinancing operations unchanged at 1.0 percent at its regular monthly meeting here.

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OPEC Cuts 2012 Oil Demand Forecast

Economic weakness in Europe and the United States and higher oil prices led OPEC to cut its 2012 forecast for growth in global oil demand on Thursday.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries now expects daily demand this year of 88.76 million barrels per day, down from its forecast a month ago of 88.90 million bpd.

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Renault CEO Says New Plant in Morocco Good for France

Renault stressed on Thursday that the opening of a giant factory in Morocco to build low-cost cars is not a sign that it is abandoning production at home in France.

"It isn't something that is being done to the detriment of France," chief executive Carlos Ghosn said on French RTL radio ahead of an official opening ceremony later on Thursday for the plant outside Tangiers.

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Etihad Airways in First-Ever Net Profit in 2011

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways on Thursday posted a net profit of $14 million for 2011, exceeding its goal of breaking even for the first time ever, a statement said.

The national carrier of the United Arab Emirates said its revenues were up 36 percent in 2011 to $4.1 billion, with net profit touching $14 million.

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