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Italy Business Confidence Hits Lowest since 2009

Business confidence in Italy fell this month to its lowest level since November 2009, an index from the Istat data agency showed on Monday, as the Eurozone’s third economy suffers through a recession.

The index fell to 91.5 points from 92.1 points in January, Istat said.

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Israel Weighs West Bank Rail System Plan

Israel's national rail company on Monday confirmed it has prepared a plan for the first railway system to operate in the occupied West Bank, at the request of the transport ministry.

A spokesman for Israel Railways said the company had put together the plan, which was first reported on Monday by Israeli daily Haaretz.

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World Bank Says China's Economy at 'Turning Point'

China has reached a "turning point" in its economic development, with the pace of growth likely to nearly halve in the next two decades, World Bank and Chinese government researchers said Monday.

The Asian giant must implement deep reforms to avoid a sudden slowdown in growth, such as scaling back its vast and powerful state-owned enterprises and breaking up monopolies in strategic sectors, the analysts said in a report.

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G20 to Pile Pressure on Europe for Stronger Firewall

Top economic powers at the G20 meeting in Mexico's capital this weekend were set to urge Europe to do more to tackle its financial crisis before they commit to new funding for the IMF.

The European Union is seeking to gain support for an additional $500 billion of resources for the International Monetary Fund at the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Mexico City on Saturday and Sunday.

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BP Faces Billions in Fines as Spill Trial Nears

On the cusp of trial over the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, phalanxes of lawyers, executives and public officials have spent the waning days in settlement talks. Holed up in small groups inside law offices, war rooms and hotel suites in New Orleans and Washington, they are trying to put a number on what BP and its partners in the doomed Macondo well project should pay to make up for the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

It is a complex equation, and the answer is proving elusive.

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Obama: No Magic Bullet to Lower Gas Prices

President Barack Obama says there is no easy answer to the problem of rising energy prices, dismissing Republican plans to address the problem as little more than gimmicks.

"We know there's no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "But what we can do is get our priorities straight and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem."

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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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