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Centrica Buys Total Oil and Gas Assets in North Sea

British energy provider Centrica said Wednesday it had agreed to buy oil and gas assets in the North Sea from French peer Total for $388 million (292 million euros) in cash.

The portfolio includes seven producing fields, Centrica said in a statement.

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Iraq Eyes Options in Case Hormuz Closed

Iraq is mulling options to boost oil exports through Turkey or to reopen disused pipelines in case Iran blocks the strategic Strait of Hormuz as threatened, the planning minister said on Wednesday.

Iran has threatened retaliation for fresh Western sanctions over its nuclear program, including a possible disruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf chokepoint for global oil shipments.

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China's Geely to Assemble Cars in Egypt

Chinese automaker Geely said Wednesday it will begin assembling cars in Egypt this year with a local partner, marking its latest push overseas as domestic demand hits the brakes.

Geely Holding Group, which owns Swedish nameplate Volvo, will work with GB Auto to assemble passenger vehicles for distribution across North Africa, the Chinese company said in a statement.

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Egypt to Provide 22 Megawatts to Struggling Gaza

Egypt is to provide 22 megawatts of electricity to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, where the sole power plant has shut down after running out of fuel, the electricity minister said on Tuesday.

Egypt "will begin boosting the Gaza Strip with around 22 megawatts of electricity at the start of next week, to confront the crisis there and ease the suffering of the Palestinian people," Hassan Yunes said.

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Euro Bounces, Stocks Seady After Greek Rescue Deal

The euro bounced close to $1.33 on Tuesday, but European stock markets held steady as investors gave a cautious welcome to another Eurozone bailout for Greece.

In morning deals, London's FTSE 100 dipped 0.07 percent to 5,940.87 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 0.06 percent to 6,944.17 points, reversing earlier gains. The Paris CAC 40 meanwhile added 0.08 percent to 3,475.01.

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Paris Hotels Post Record Year

The number of nights spent in Paris hotels hit a record in 2011, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau said Monday, with a big jump in visits from China.

In total, visitors spent 36.9 million nights in the City of Light last year, a 3.1 percent increase from 2010.

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Eurozone Seals Greek Bailout Deal

Eurozone finance ministers sealed a deal for a massive new bailout of Greece in the early hours of Tuesday, several sources said.

"We have the essentials of the deal," a European Union official said, indicating it covered both a write-down of Greek sovereign debt held by private creditors and a package of guarantees and loans also being put up by Eurozone governments.

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Iraq's Oil Exports Slightly Decline in January

Iraq's oil ministry says oil exports have declined slightly in January compared to the previous month.

Monday's statement says last month oil exports averaged 2.107 million barrels per day, down from 2.145 million barrels per day in December.

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European Markets Rise on Greek Bailout Hopes

European stock markets rose on Monday on growing signs that a new bailout for Greece will be finalized at last, and sentiment was also soothed by Chinese moves to loosen bank lending.

In morning deals, London's FTSE 100 gained 0.70 percent to 5,946.13 points, the Paris CAC 40 added 0.80 percent to 3,467.28 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 rose 0.93 percent to 6,911.45 points.

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Japan Logs Record Trade Deficit in January

Japan posted a record trade deficit in January, latest data showed, as fuel imports rose following last year's nuclear disaster while exports were hit by a strong yen and slumping demand in Europe.

The January deficit came in at 1.475 trillion yen ($18.5 billion), the highest since records began in 1979, the finance ministry said.

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