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EU Strides Out with Call for Control over National Budgets

EU leaders called on Wednesday for Brussels to have power to rewrite national budgets to ensure the euro survives amid concerns that such discipline could clash with democracy.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Brussels would have to be given the power to scrutinize national budgets and demand changes before they are adopted.

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New York Oil Tops $100

Oil prices in New York topped the $100 level for the first time since June 10 as traders anticipated tightening supplies at the beginning of winter.

The main New York contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery, topped the $100 level shortly after opening and pushed up to $101.33 at around 1515 GMT, compared with Tuesday's close of $99.37.

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Debt Shy European Banks Steer Clear of Eurozone Bonds

Reeling from their exposure to the Eurozone debt crisis and needing to bolster their capital base, European banks are slashing their government bond holdings but risk making matters worse.

Top banks announced recently they are cutting their portfolios of bonds issued by such weak Eurozone members as Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, aiming to minimize the risk to profit and to their capital.

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Syria Stops Oil Payments to France's Total

Total said Tuesday the Syrian government has stopped paying for oil the French energy giant produces in the country, which is the target of a European Union ban on oil exports.

"We are no longer being paid," a Total spokesman said, confirming media reports. He said the company had since late September "slightly" reduced its production in Syria but was continuing to produce oil and gas there.

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Turkey Threatens to Cut Power to Syria, Halts Oil Search

Turkey said Tuesday it has halted joint oil exploration with Syria and threatened to cut energy supplies to its neighbor as relations sour over the Syrian regime's bloody crackdown on demonstrators.

"We are currently exporting electricity (to Syria). If the situation continues like this, we may be in a position to revise all these decisions," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

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Greek Economy in Dire Shape Ahead of Confidence Vote

The Greek economy shrank 5.2 percent in the third quarter, official figures showed on Tuesday, highlighting the depths of the crisis as parliament debates approval of a new government to enact a debt rescue.

Athens is racing against time to adopt deeply unpopular reforms demanded by its European and IMF creditors before the release of bailout loans needed to avert bankruptcy in mid-December.

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Gas Exporters Urge a Fair Price at First Summit

Leaders of the world's biggest gas suppliers ended their first summit on Tuesday by reiterating the need for a fair gas price while Iran, whose president was absent, warned that Western taxation will derail the energy market.

The 12-member Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) expressed in a declaration they issued after the one-day summit "the need to reach a fair price for natural gas based on gas to oil ... prices indexation."

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Saudi, S. Korea Ink Nuclear Cooperation Deal

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with South Korea on developing nuclear power generation to help meet the kingdom's rising demand, an official statement said on Tuesday.

The announcement came amid mounting concern in the Sunni-ruled kingdom about the nuclear program of its Shiite rival across the Gulf, Iran, which Riyadh, in common with Western governments, fears may conceal a drive for a nuclear weapons capability.

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Euro Health-Check Rings 'Alarm Bells' for AAA France

The authors of a new Eurozone health-check warned Tuesday that France needs wholesale reform even before next year's presidential vote if it is to keep its prized Triple-A credit rating.

"Alarm bells should be ringing for France," says Holger Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg Bank, Germany's oldest private lender and the principal author of the annual study in partnership with liberal Brussels think tank the Lisbon Council.

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World Stocks Up as Europe Stabilizes, Japan Grows

World stocks rose Monday after Japan's economy grew for the first time in four quarters and Europe moved closer to resolving a debt crisis that threatens to hurl the region into recession.

Benchmark oil hovered near $99 per barrel while the dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.

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