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Iraq Pledges Curbs on Foreign Labor

Iraq has pledged to curb numbers of unskilled migrant laborers in a bid to cut high levels of domestic unemployment and reduce illegal immigration, Baghdad's labor minister said on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of workers from around the world are toiling in post-war Iraq, which has a labor code and immigration law. But with Iraq's multitude of problems there is little monitoring, leaving migrants vulnerable and often exploited.

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Greece to Launch Bond Swap to Slash Private Debt

Greece will launch a bond swap on Friday under a deal with private investors to write off 107 billion euros from its debt mountain of 350 billion euros ($462 billion).

The bond swap, in effect a cancellation of nearly a third of debt owned by Greece, is a critical part of a debt rescue stitched together with immense difficulty by the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund, to avert imminent default.

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Germany Slashes Deficit Despite Faltering Growth

Robust growth and record low unemployment enabled Germany to slash its public deficit last year, even if Europe's biggest economy ground to a halt at the final months, data showed on Friday.

Germany -- which given its economic clout has assumed a leading role in the fight to end Europe's chronic debt crisis -- ran up a deficit equivalent to just 1.0 percent of output last year, down from 4.3 percent in 2010.

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Oil Prices Surge with Middle East Tensions

World oil prices surged to new nine-month highs on Thursday amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on the opposition.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for April, jumped $1.55 to settle at $107.83 a barrel. It was its highest close since May 4.

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Procter & Gamble to Slash 5,700 Jobs

U.S. consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble said Thursday it would cut 5,700 jobs, or 10 percent of its global workforce, by the end of 2013 as part of a four-year restructuring aimed cutting costs by $10 billion.

About 1,600 jobs will be eliminated this year and 4,100 in 2012, for a savings of $800 million, P&G said at an investors conference.

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European Shares Mixed, Euro Higher Amid Bank Results

European stock markets diverged and the euro rose against the dollar on Thursday as traders reacted to mixed earnings from the region's biggest banks and varied Eurozone economic data.

Dealers were also tracking the latest developments surrounding Greece, as the nation's parliament focused on approving laws for a historic debt write down with private creditors, a condition for a new Eurozone bailout.

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Eurozone Faces Recession Throughout 2012

More bad news hit the Eurozone on Thursday as EU data predicted recession throughout 2012, with a 0.3-percent contraction compared to 0.5-percent growth and a likely downturn in the previous November forecast.

"The unexpected stalling of the recovery in late 2011 is set to extend into the first two quarters of 2012," the European Commission said on Thursday.

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Oil Price Hits Nine-Month Peak in London

The price of Brent crude oil surged to a nine-month high on Thursday, propelled by intensifying Iran concerns amid reports that Japan wanted to slash its Iranian crude imports, traders said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April soared as high as $124.09 per barrel, reaching a level last seen on May 3, 2011. It later pulled back to $123.81, 91 cents from Wednesday's closing level.

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Nissan Recalls 250,000 Cars Globally Over Sensor

Nissan said Thursday it will recall almost 250,000 vehicles worldwide over a loose sensor that could cause fuel leaks in the worst cases.

The recall of 249,522 vehicles covers seven models, a Nissan spokesman said.

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UAE's Etisalat Says Will Close India Telecom Operations

Abu Dhabi-based telecom firm Etisalat said Wednesday it was closing its Indian joint-venture mobile operations following a court ruling cancelling its license amid corruption allegations.

The Indian Supreme Court's decision earlier this month revoking licenses awarded by the government to a clutch of telecom firms "has removed Etisalat DB's ability to operate," the company said in a statement.

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