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Oil Near $88 After Obama Announces Jobs Bill

Oil prices fell to near $88 a barrel Friday in Asia as investors mulled whether a new U.S. jobs package will help boost crude demand.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 62 cents to $88.43 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude fell 29 cents to finish at $89.05 on Thursday.

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Stocks Lower Ahead of G-7 Meeting

The failure of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to outline new monetary stimulus weighed on markets Friday ahead of a meeting of finance ministers of the Group of Seven top industrialized countries where pro-growth measures are set to be discussed.

Hopes that Bernanke would use a speech Thursday to hint at another round of stimulus were not met and fueled a bout of selling in markets after a week when most stocks have managed to hold their own.

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Porsche Shares Tank as VW Says no Merger This Year

Porsche shares are down sharply after Volkswagen said a merger between the two German carmakers will not be completed by the year-end as planned.

Shares in Porsche Automobil Holding SE traded down 11.3 percent Friday at €39.21.

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French Minister Seeks to Reassure Asia on Euro

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe sought Thursday to reassure Asian countries that the Eurozone would not collapse "despite the current crisis" as he began an Asia-Pacific tour in Hong Kong.

"Rest assured that in the face of this crisis, we are taking action," he said in a speech to members of the French community in the southern Chinese city.

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Specter Rises of Greece Being Kicked Out of Euro

The prospect of throwing Greece out of the Eurozone moved cener-stage Thursday, after the Dutch called for the "ultimate sanction" and Germany warned a second bailout deal may need re-negotiation.

Under a proposed new regime that would place economies in deep trouble under the wardenship of Eurozone partners, Netherlands finance minister Jan Kees de Jager threatened expulsion as an "ultimate sanction".

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U.N. Agency Says Global Tourism Hits New Record

International tourism grew by almost five percent in the first half of the year, recording a record 440 million arrivals, the World Tourism Organization said Thursday.

The results show that "in spite of multiple challenges, international tourism continues to consolidate the return to growth initiated in 2010," the U.N. body said in its report.

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Tired Western Brands Find New Life in Asia

Faded and forgotten Western brands are being dusted off and brought back to life by companies in Asia targeting the burgeoning number of people looking for labels to match new middle class lifestyles.

Asians have been buying or licensing fashion names — many of them European with long and rich histories including royal connections or haute couture origins — that have fallen out of favor back home, as they seek to lure the region's newly affluent.

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Gadhafi 'Sold 20% Of Libya's Gold' In Regime's Final Days

Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sold more than 20 percent of Libya's gold reserves, worth more than $1 billion, in the final days of his regime, the country's central bank governor said on Thursday.

Qassem Azzoz said 1.7 billion dinars worth of fold, or around 29 tons, were sold to local merchants as the regime ran short of cash.

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Vallares Buys Iraq-Focused Oil Producer for $2.1 Billion

Vallares, the investment vehicle led by ex-BP head Tony Hayward, announced on Wednesday a deal to buy Genel Energy International, the biggest oil producer in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, for $2.1 billion.

Iraq's Kurdistan government was expected to approve the deal later this month, Vallares said in a statement.

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Germany Says 'Impossible' to Kick Greece Out of Euro

It is "impossible" to exclude Greece from the euro as some people have been suggesting, German economy minister and deputy chancellor Philipp Roesler said in a newspaper interview Wednesday.

"You can't turn back the course of history. Excluding a country (from the Eurozone) would be impossible given the treaties currently in force," Roesler, who is also the head of the small liberal FDP party, told the regional daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

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