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EU Short on IMF Loans Target as Britain Refuses Aid

The EU is short of a target for loans to the IMF destined for a Eurozone bailout, with Britain leaving its EU partners in the lurch for the second time this month.

Eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the 17 countries that share the single currency pledged 150 billion euros ($195 billion) in bilateral loans for the International Monetary Fund late on Monday. Europe hopes the money can help stabilize the debt-laden euro area

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Syria to Slash Public Spending to Head off Crisis

Syria has decided to slash public sector spending in a bid to head off a crisis for an economy that has taken a beating due to months of unrest and sanctions, media said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Adel Safar has issued an order for the public sector to reduce spending by 25 percent in a move designed at "limiting waste", Al-Baath newspaper reported.

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Australia Warns of 'Sharp' Europe Downturn

Australia's central bank on Tuesday said there was a "non-trivial" possibility of a severe contraction in the Eurozone economy, leaving the door open for further interest rate cuts in 2012.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said downside risks to the global economy from Europe's sovereign debt woes had increased of late "though the timing and magnitude of any effects... remained very difficult to predict".

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Japan to Buy Chinese Bonds

Japan is preparing to buy Yuan-denominated bonds issued by the Chinese government under a proposed bilateral currency and financial agreement, according to the Nikkei business daily.

Japanese and Chinese officials are working out plans to have the pact signed when their premiers hold summit talks in Beijing on Sunday, the brief dispatch said on Tuesday.

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Iran Admits The Pain of Sanctions

Western sanctions have taken such a toll on Iran over the past 18 months that now -- as the screw is about to be tightened yet further -- Tehran's studied insouciance is slipping, with officials admitting the economic damage being felt.

"War-time conditions" demanded dramatic policy reactions, the head of Tehran's chamber of trade and industry, Yahya AlEshaq, told Sunday's Iran Daily newspaper.

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Swiss Franc Gains Against Euro

The Swiss franc rose further against the euro on Monday despite last week's decision by the central bank to maintain its cap on the exchange rate.

At 2:45 pm (1345 GMT) the Swiss currency stood at 1.219 francs against the euro -- a high since the end of November -- compared to 1.2204 late on Friday.

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Britain to Split up Banks in 2019

The British government will Monday accept in full recommendations to split banks' retail and investment units in a bid to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, business minister Vince Cable said.

A report by the government-appointed Independent Commission on Banking, published in September, recommended measures to protect retail operations as part of sweeping reforms to be brought in by 2019.

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Etihad Lifts Stake in Air Berlin to 29%

United Arab Emirates airline, Etihad, is to pay 72.9 million euros ($95 million) to become the biggest shareholder in Germany's second-largest airline, Air Berlin, the German group said on Monday.

Etihad, which already held 2.99 percent in the German carrier, is to buy 31.6 million more shares in a capital increase, thereby raising its stake to 29.21 percent, Air Berlin said in a statement.

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Christmas Belt-Tightening in Crisis-Hit Europe

Europeans are tightening their belts and spending less on Christmas gifts this year as they struggle with incomes hit by austerity measures or fear the economy could worsen in 2012.

Mother Nature is helping retailers in many countries this year as there have been no snow storms keeping consumers home and playing havoc with deliveries.

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Swedish Carmaker Saab Files for Bankruptcy

Saab cars filed for bankruptcy on Monday, a Swedish district court told Agence France Presse, bringing to an end two years of efforts to rescue the iconic brand.

The final desperate efforts to organize help in China were obstructed by General Motors over licenses.

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