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Greece Tops G8 Agenda as Eurozone Crisis Snares Spain

Fears that debt-stricken Greece may be headed for a chaotic Eurozone exit loomed large as President Barack Obama met other G8 leaders for crisis talks in the United States on Friday.

The Group of Eight top economies came together as Greece faces its second election in just six weeks, putting its Eurozone future in doubt and dragging down Spain, where the government is struggling to keep its banks afloat.

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Greek Euro Exit Looms as G8 Gathers

World leaders will huddle at Camp David Friday with the focus on Greece as it stumbles toward an unprecedented Eurozone exit that holds wildly uncertain repercussions for the global economy.

Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations will gather at the history-imbued U.S. presidential retreat near Washington for a two-day summit, with the dramatic denouement of Greece's economic crisis firmly at the top of the agenda.

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Industry Report: Global Demand for Gold Dips 5%

Global demand for gold fell 5.0 percent in the first quarter of 2012 but demand in China hit record highs and outstripped that of megabuyer India, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.

Demand worldwide fell to 1,097.6 tons in the quarter ended March, worth an estimated $59.7 billion, with gold prices on average 16 percent higher than those seen in the same period last year, the council said in its latest report.

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Qatar Eyes Bulgaria Investment Possibilities

Qatar eyed Bulgaria investment opportunities on Thursday as the two countries signed a framework agreement at the start of a visit by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani to Bulgaria.

"I believe that there are viable opportunities to invest in Bulgaria," Sheikh Hamad told a press conference after signing an investment framework agreement with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov, adding that the government in Sofia "interacts with us seriously and responsibly."

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Fitch Cuts Greece's Debt Rating a Notch

Rating firm Fitch downgraded Greece's credit a notch Thursday, to CCC from B-, citing political uncertainty over the country's commitment to a crucial bailout and possible exit of the eurozone.

"The downgrade of Greece's sovereign ratings reflects the heightened risk that Greece may not be able to sustain its membership of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)," Fitch Ratings said in a statement.

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China Firms Blast New U.S. Duties on Solar Cells

Chinese companies have slammed the United States as "short-sighted" and warned of a trade war after it imposed hefty duties on solar cells it said were being sold at artificially low prices.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday slapped levies of between 31 and 250 percent on the Chinese solar cell producers in retaliation for the so-called "dumping".

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INE: Spain Falls Back Into Recession

Spain fell into recession in the first quarter of 2012 with a decline of 0.3 percent in gross domestic product (GDP), the same rate of contraction recorded late last year, official data showed on Thursday.

Final figures released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) confirmed preliminary data issued on April 30 and underscored the precarious state of the Eurozone’s fourth biggest economy as it battles 24.4 percent unemployment, a record high.

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Number of Global Tourists to Top 1 bn This Year

The number of people vacationing abroad this year is expected to top a billion for the first time, the head of the global tourism authority said.

The forecast is higher than expected and presents an opportunity for governments to create jobs in difficult economic times, added Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization.

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U.S. Court Orders Japanese Bank to Freeze Iran Transactions Over 1983 Beirut Bombing

A Japanese bank has halted transactions by the Iranian government after a U.S. court ordered a $2.6 billion asset freeze over the 1983 bombing of U.S. barracks in Beirut, a bank spokesman said Thursday.

"It is true that we have received the order from the U.S. court," to freeze $2.6 billion of assets, a spokesman for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ told Agence France Presse, declining to give details on the value of Iranian holdings at the bank.

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Schaeuble Rules Out New Talks on Greek Aid

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stressed on Wednesday that it was not possible to re-negotiate an international aid plan for Greece.

"This is an aid program that was prepared down to the last detail, we cannot re-negotiate it," Schaeuble told Deutschlandfunk radio after Greek political leaders said they were unable to form a new government, suggesting that new elections would be held.

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