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Ratings Agency Moody's Downgrades Greece

The ratings agency Moody's downgraded Greece to the lowest rating on its bond scale late Friday, following a deal with private investors that would see them ultimately lose an estimated 70 percent of their holdings in Greek debt.

Moody's lowered Greece's sovereign rating to C from Ca, arguing that the risk of default remains high even a bond-swap deal with banks and other private investors, due to be completed this month, is successful.

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BP Reaches $7.8 Billion Settlement in U.S. Oil Spill Trial

BP said Friday it reached a $7.8 billion deal to settle claims from fishermen and other private claimants affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill ahead of the start of a blockbuster U.S. trial.

The settlement does not affect what is anticipated to be tens of billions in fines and claims from the U.S. government and the coastal states and local governments impacted by the spill.

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Spain's Jobless Claims up 112,000 in February

Spain's Labor Ministry says the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose by 112,269 in January, raising the overall figure to a rounded 4.7 million.

Spain's jobless rate stands at a 22.9 percent, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

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Oil near $108 after Saudi Explosion Report Denied

Oil prices fell slightly to near $108 a barrel Friday in Asia after Saudi Arabia denied an Iranian media report of an explosion at a Saudi pipeline.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 41 cents to $108.43 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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European States Sign New Fiscal Treaty

The leaders of 25 European states have signed a new treaty designed to prevent the 17 euro countries from running up huge debts in order to prevent a repeat of the current crisis afflicting the single currency zone.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who oversaw the drafting of the accord, said the treaty will bring an "economic and monetary union that is finally walking on two legs."

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Kodak Agrees to Sell Online Gallery to Shutterfly

Eastman Kodak Co. said Thursday it plans to sell its online photo service business to online photo publishing company Shutterfly Inc. for $23.8 million.

Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in January and said it is narrowing its focus to its core printer businesses.

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China Manufacturing Sees Gains in February

China's manufacturing gained momentum in February, helped by strength in new orders, export demand and production, a government survey showed, though inflation pressures remain a concern.

The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose 0.5 points to 51.0 from January's 50.5 and December's figure of 50.3 in a third straight month of steady improvement.

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Dubai Shipbuilding Firm Eyes End to Debt Process

Dubai's state-run shipbuilding company says it soon plans to lay out the terms of its $2.2 billion debt restructuring plan and aims to complete the process by July.

DryDocks World and several lenders have been wrangling over the terms of the restructuring for months.

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World Stock Markets Slip as Buying Fervor Cools

World stock markets edged lower Thursday as buying fervor cooled following a string of strong gains.

Benchmark oil slipped below $107 per barrel while the dollar fell against the yen but rose against the euro.

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Oil Falls below $107 amid Weak U.S. Gasoline Demand

Oil prices fell to below $107 a barrel Thursday in Asia after U.S. crude supplies grew more than expected amid weak gasoline demand.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 39 cents to $106.68 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 52 cents to $107.07 per barrel in New York on Wednesday.

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