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Obama presses Europe for 'decisive' action

U.S. President Barack Obama called Friday for urgent, decisive action by Europe's leaders to beat back the economic crisis, as he urged Greeks ahead of elections to stay in the Eurozone.

Speaking as European officials worked on a huge rescue plan for Spain's feeble banks, Obama said he was confident EU leaders appreciated the severity of a crisis that weighs heavily on his prospects of reelection in November.

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Qantas Shares Plunge on S&P Move

Shares in flagship Australian airline Qantas dropped below Aus$1 (98.5 U.S. cents) Friday for the first time since the carrier's float in 1995 after it was put on credit watch by Standard & Poor's.

The embattled airline's stock plunged as low as 96.2 cents -- a fall of more than nine percent -- after S&P put its BBB/A-2 investment-grade rating on credit watch negative following warnings this week of a huge profit slump.

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Cyprus Central Bank Sees GDP Shrinking 1.1% in 2012

Cyprus's Eurozone economy will shrink by 1.1 percent in 2012, the central bank forecast on Thursday, a more pessimistic outlook than the zero growth seen in December.

After suffering a year-long recession, Cyprus can only expect "anemic growth" of 0.4 percent next year, the bank added.

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China pledges 'selfless help' for Afghanistan

China's president pledged "selfless help" to Afghanistan on Friday and the leaders of the two nations agreed to upgrade their ties, as NATO-led forces prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country in 2014.

Hu Jintao told visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that China would "continue to provide sincere and selfless help to the Afghan side" as it entered "a critical transition period".

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Crisis-Hit Spain Lures Bond Buyers But at High Cost

Spain paid sharply higher borrowing costs to lure buyers for its bonds Thursday as the crisis-torn banking sector tottered towards a bailout.

The treasury raised 2.074 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in the auction of two-, four- and 10-year bonds, comfortably beating its own target range of 1.0-2.0 billion euros, Bank of Spain figures showed.

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U.S. Fed Agrees Basel III Banking Rules

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday signed off on proposed new regulations to bring U.S. banks in line with the Basel III global standards, aimed at giving banks more crisis-resistant footings.

The U.S. rules will give bank holding companies and savings and loans companies with at least $500 million in assets until 2019 to meet the new capital rules, which have met resistance from banks as too hefty.

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Chinese and Japanese Investors Bid for Saab

A group of Chinese and Japanese investors have submitted an offer to take over bankrupt Swedish carmaker Saab, a spokesman said Thursday.

"We submitted a definitive offer on April 7" before the deadline for bids expired, said Mikaael Oestlund of the National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS).

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Global Markets Rise Amid Hopes for Spain Aid

Global markets rose on Thursday, boosted by hopes that Europe is preparing to give Spain financial aid to help it cope with the cost of saving its banks and that the Federal Reserve will consider additional support for the U.S. economy.

Spain's government cannot afford to rescue its banking sector but is reluctant to accept a full-fledged bailout from its eurozone partners, as that would mean giving up control over some of its domestic policies.

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Tokyo's 2020 Olympic to Boost Economic Activity

Organizers of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics said Thursday bringing the games to the Japanese capital would generate economic activity worth $37.9 billion and create more than 152,000 jobs.

The $37.9 billion figure includes a $21.1 billion economic benefit for the Tokyo metropolitan area and 16.3 billion for the rest of the national economy.

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‘Shou Fi Bi Lebnen’ a Campaign to Boost Lebanon’s Tourism

Under the title “Shu Fi Bi Lebnen” (What’s New in Lebanon) Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud launched a campaign to promote and boost the tourism season, voicing hopes that Gulf countries would review their travel warnings to Lebanon.

The campaign was launched Wednesday at the Phoenicia Hotel in the presence of a number of representatives including Head of the ABC Group Robert Fadel, MEA board Member Marwan Salha, Head of the Syndicate of Maritime Firms Jean Beiruti, Head of the Syndicate of Furnished Apartments Ziad Labban, President of the Syndicate of Rental-Car Agencies in Lebanon Mohammad Daqdouq, Head of Lebanon's Tourism Union Amin Khayyat, Chairman of the Group Aishti Tony Salameh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of City Mall Michel Abche and many more.

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