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European Stocks Close Sharply Lower

European stock markets closed sharply lower on Friday, hit by fresh worries over the Eurozone debt crisis and a much weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report.

London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies lost 2.34 percent to 5,292.03 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 shed 3.59 percent to 3,148.53 points and in Frankfurt the DAX dropped 3.36 percent to 5,538.33 points.

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U.S. Adds Zero Jobs in Rough August

The stuttering U.S. economy added no jobs in August amid recession fears and political turmoil over the government's finances, bleak official data showed Friday.

Employment in the private sector, previously the main engine for job growth as revenue-strapped governments shed workers, "changed little" in most major industries, the Labor Department said.

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British Ambassador Visits Beirut Port

In his first official activity following the presentation of his credentials to President Michel Suleiman, British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher visited Beirut Container Terminal Consortium (BCTC) at Beirut port, accompanied by Head of Trade and Investment Paul Khawaja. Ziad Kanaan, board member and Karen Bellamy, General Manager of BCTC presented an overview of the work that the company has been doing over the past seven years.

Bellamy explained the role of the British company and its administration of the port of Beirut over the past years in which it became one of the top most important 100 ports in the world.

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U.S. Investigating Oracle Over Possible Bribery

U.S. authorities have been investigating Oracle for at least a year to see if the business software titan violated anti-bribery laws in its overseas business, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department have been pressing a criminal investigation, as the Securities and Exchange Commission looks into possible civil violations.

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Tesco Says to Sell Japanese Unit

British retailer Tesco said Wednesday it had decided to sell its network of 129 small supermarkets in Japan's greater Tokyo region to better focus on its operations in other parts of Asia.

"We have reviewed our portfolio in Asia and the performance of our business in Japan. Having made considerable efforts in Japan, we have concluded that we cannot build a sufficiently scalable business," Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke said in a statement.

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Oil Hovers Near $89 Amid Surprise U.S. Supply Jump

Oil prices hovered near $89 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly jumped last week, a sign demand may be weakening.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 14 cents to $89.04 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose $1.63 to settle at $88.90 on Tuesday.

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Eurozone Inflation Data Suggest no More Rate Hikes

Inflation in the 17 euro countries remained steady at 2.5 percent in August, adding to expectations the European Central Bank will hold off from raising interest rates — and may even consider cutting them — as economic growth slows.

Wednesday's figure is still above the ECB's target of just below 2 percent, but underlines that prices in the eurozone are not rising as quickly as earlier in the year. In June, inflation was 2.7 percent.

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Ratings Agency Releases List of World's '10 Safest Airlines'

Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa are the safest airlines in Europe, according to a study ranking the "ten safest airlines" by the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA) released Monday.

The safest U.S.-based airlines are AMR Corporation, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways, while the safest from Asia is Japan Airlines, it said, without giving a ranking within the top ten.

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French New Home Sales Plunge

Sales of new homes plunged by 22.6 percent in France during the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the housing ministry said Tuesday.

Construction starts rose by 9.1 percent to 80,524 however, and the issue of construction permits climbed by 8.6 percent to 118,747.

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Italy's Financial Crisis Turns up Heat on The Vatican

With Italy facing the prospect of drastic cuts to balance its budget in the years to come, a growing number of ordinary Italians are criticizing massive tax breaks given to the Roman Catholic Church.

A Facebook page set up by leftist campaigners in recent weeks asking the Vatican to help ease austerity in Italy has already collected 130,000 supporters. It asks for numerous exemptions given to the Church to be revised.

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