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Lagarde Hails S.Africa, Warns of Euro Risks

IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised South Africa's "impressive" economic performance Saturday, but again warned that the European debt crisis posed a risk to Africa's largest economy.

"South Africa's recent economic performance has been impressive. Good macroeconomic policies which, together with a flexible exchange rate and sound financial sector, have mitigated the output drop during the global recession," she said in a statement.

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Asian Economies Look to Keep Iranian Oil Flowing

China, the biggest buyer of Iran's oil, has publicly rejected U.S. sanctions aimed at Tehran's energy industry while American allies Japan and South Korea are scrambling to find a compromise to keep critical supplies flowing.

Beijing is buying less Iranian crude this month but analysts say China is unlikely to support an oil embargo. Instead, they say, the smaller purchases might be a tactic aimed at obtaining lower prices as the West squeezes Tehran.

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IKEA Recalls 169,000 Baby High Chairs in U.S., Canada

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has recalled 169,000 baby high chairs sold in the United States and Canada over reports that the safety belts can open unexpectedly.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada announced the recall on Thursday and IKEA posted a warning on its website over the ANTILOP high chair, sold from August 2006 through January 2010 for around $20.

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Asian Markets Fall, Europe Fears Outweigh U.S. Data

Asian markets fell Friday and the euro continued its struggles as fresh concerns over Spain and Italy rattled investors despite another strong batch of jobs data from the United States.

Regional dealers followed European losses caused by a warning from Madrid that its banks may hold more bad loans than thought, while a French bond auction saw weak demand and Italy's leader paid an unplanned visit to Brussels.

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IMF Chief Euro Unlikely to 'Vanish' This Year

The euro is unlikely to "vanish" this year, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Friday, but warned a report this month will show the global economy growing slower than the 4.0 percent estimated in September.

"Will 2012 be the end of the euro? My answer is, I don't think so," she told a press conference during a visit to South Africa. "The currency itself is not likely to vanish or disappear in 2012."

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Swiss Bank Head Says 'Acted Correctly' on Currency Deals

Swiss central bank chief Philipp Hildebrand on Thursday defended himself against criticism of foreign currency transactions made by his family last year and suggested "political motives" were at work.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the scandal, Hildebrand told media in Zurich that he had complied with all the regulations of the central bank.

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UniCredit Warns Investors EU Could Abandon Euro

Italy's top bank UniCredit has warned investors that if the eurozone crisis worsens the euro may be abandoned, though bank head Federico Ghizzoni Thursday said the scenario remained unrealistic.

In a prospectus released after UniCredit announced it was selling shares to meet new capital requirements, the bank flagged up a series of risk factors.

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Iran 'Not Concerned' about Imminent EU Oil Ban

Iran said on Thursday it was "not concerned" about an imminent EU ban on its oil, saying it would endure the extra sanctions even though they amounted to "an economic war."

"Iran has always been ready to counter such hostile actions and we are not concerned at all about the sanctions," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a joint news conference with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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Fiat Gets Another Five Percent of Chrysler

Fiat has added five percent to its majority ownership of Chrysler.

The Italian automaker got the added stake by making a car in the U.S. that gets 40 miles per gallon of gas.

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Germany Denies 'Defeat' over ECB Job

Germany said on Wednesday the surprise naming of a Belgian economist to replace the German incumbent of a highly coveted European Central Bank position was "in no way a defeat".

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference that Germany had "no hereditary claim" to certain posts within the Frankfurt-based central bank.

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