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Split Eurozone Faces Pressure for Debt Action on all Fronts

The eurozone is under immense pressure on all fronts to deal with its spreading debt crisis, as a rift on rescue strategies and even on the need for a crisis summit deepened on Wednesday.

In extraordinarily outspoken terms, the next head of the European Central Bank issued a blunt warning that the solvency of eurozone countries should not be taken for granted.

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Gold Hits Record High Near $1,580 an Ounce

The price of gold surged to a record close to $1,580 an ounce here on Wednesday, as investors switched into the metal for safety from the eurozone debt crisis, traders said.

The price of gold reached $1,578.72 an ounce by mid-day on the London Bullion Market, beating the previous record of $1,577.57 set on May 1. It later stood at $1,573 an ounce in afternoon London trade.

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EA Buying PopCap Games for $750 Million

U.S. videogame titan Electronic Arts said Tuesday it is buying PopCap Games, maker of popular titles such as Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, and Zuma, for at least $750 million in cash and stock.

EA said it will pay $650 million in cash and $100 million in shares of EA common stock to be issued to certain stockholders of PopCap, which makes casual games for mobile phones, personal and tablet computers and social networks.

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China's Forex Reserves Hit New Record

China's foreign exchange reserves soared to a record $3.1975 trillion at the end of June, the central bank said Tuesday, highlighting concerns over inflation in the world's second biggest economy.

China's forex reserves have ballooned in recent years, fuelled by strong foreign investment, large trade surpluses and inflows of "hot money" -- short-term speculative funds in search of quick profits.

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Iraq Signs Initial Deal to Tap Natural Gas in South

Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. have signed an initial deal with Iraq to tap natural gas in the country's south, an oil executive said Tuesday, the latest push to develop Iraq's energy sector battered by years of neglect and war.

The deal is expected to be a key part of the government's strategy to alleviate its power generation woes as chronic power outages have led to sometimes violent protests.

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Munich Re: Japan Quake Makes 2011 Costliest Year to Date

Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March are set to make 2011 the costliest year on record for natural disasters, German insurance giant Munich Re said on Tuesday.

Total economic losses for the first six months alone were $265 billion, easily exceeding the $220 billion recorded for the whole of 2005, previously the most expensive year to date, Munich Re said.

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Abboud Says GPI will Return Stronger than Ever

Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud promised his costumers that GPI will return stronger than before, apologizing for the fire that gutted his plastic factory in Mazraat Yashouh.

Abboud told As Safir newspaper on Tuesday that the machines at the factory cost approximately $12 million. “So far, there is no complete estimate for the losses,” he said.

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Italy Moves Against Speculators as Market Worries Grow

Italy moved to curb financial speculators on Monday as Italian stocks dropped and bond yields hit record high levels on signs that Europe's sovereign debt crisis is spreading.

The financial market authority Consob said it was imposing transparency rules on short selling, forcing investors betting on stocks losing value to inform the regulator of any market actions that could spark volatility.

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Luxury Brands Riding High on Stock Market

Purveyors of luxury and indulgence flirted with record stock market valuations this week as investors looked past a litany of bad economic figures and the eurozone debt crisis to focus on the fundamentals.

Dealers said successful share floats for such fashion icons as Prada in Hong Kong -- a key market for investors and buyers alike -- and Salvatore Ferragamo in Milan boosted interest and offered the prospect of further gains.

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Taiwan's Textile Firms Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Taiwan's once-booming textile industry entered this decade in need of a wake-up call, with global competition having reduced exports by over a third. But one firm has received a boost from a surprising source: coffee.

The S. Cafe fabric, made by small firm Singtex Industrial, incorporates recycled coffee grounds from Starbucks and 7-Eleven, and has proved a hit with heavyweight international brands including Nike and North Face.

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