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U.S. Assists Lebanon’s WTO Accession Bid

The U.S. Embassy and the Lebanese Standards Institution (LIBNOR) on Wednesday celebrated the opening of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Enquiry Point for Lebanon at the Metropolitan Hotel in Sin-el-Fil.

The Enquiry Point, a prerequisite for World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, increases transparency and global accessibility to Lebanese trade regulations and facilitates trade operations.

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Italian Authorities Seize 245 Million Euros from Unicredit

Italian authorities seized 245 million Euros ($338.5 million) fromUnicredit, Italy's largest bank, on suspicion of tax evasion in 2007 and 2008, judicial and Unicredit sources said on Wednesday.

According to the sources, executives from Unicredit, including former head Alessandro Profumo, and British bank Barclays are under investigation in an operation dubbed "Brontos".

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Paris's Famed Hotel Ritz to Close for Two Years

Paris's Hotel Ritz, famed for generations as the city's highest-profile luxury hotel, said Tuesday it is to close for more than two years from next summer for an "unprecedented" renovation.

The move comes after the five-star hotel in central Paris, owned by billionaire Egyptian tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed, failed earlier this year to win France's coveted "palace" designation marking a top luxury destination.

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Two-Day Strike in Greece Against Austerity

Greek unions on Wednesday launched a two-day general strike in an all-out effort to block a new austerity bill that parliament must pass this week to forestall a state bankruptcy.

Most of the country's professional classes joined the walkout including civil servants, tax collectors, doctors, teachers, sailors and taxi owners while traders, petrol station operators and bakers also shut down their businesses in protest against the government's economic policies.

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BHP Reports Strong Iron Ore, Petroleum Production

Global mining giant BHP Billiton reported a strong quarterly increase in its iron ore and petroleum production, but said copper output slumped.

The miner, which in August posted a near doubling of its full-year net profit to US$23.6 billion, also achieved record production in the September quarter at its New South Wales Energy Coal and Illawarra Coal operations.

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Medvedev to Visit Ukraine for Energy Talks

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday welcomes Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev for energy talks after Kiev opened a rift with the EU by jailing ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet in the Ukrainian leader's industrial power base of Donetsk for a summit on regional cooperation but energy is expected to top the agenda.

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France Warned on Rating as EU Debt Hopes Dampened

France vowed Tuesday to do everything in its power to keep its triple-A rating following a warning from Moody's, as markets fell after Germany dampened hopes that an EU summit will resolve the Eurozone crisis.

Paris shares tumbled by as much as 2.01 percent early Tuesday after the Moody's warning, following earlier falls on Asian markets amid concerns over the spreading impact of the Eurozone's debt woes.

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IBM Stock Sags on Revenue Target Miss

IBM on Monday reported revenue and profit rose in the recently ended quarter but its stock sagged as the U.S. technology stalwart missed marks set by Wall Street analysts.

IBM made a profit of $3.8 billion on total revenue of $26.2 billion, outperforming the same period last year by seven and eight percent respectively.

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Occupy Wall Street Flexes Muscles One Month on

Exactly a month after a few hundred anti-capitalism activists set up camp in New York, the Occupy Wall Street movement has gone international and won the attention of the White House -- even if no one knows where it will go next.

Protesters sheltering under plastic tarps in the well organized camp at Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, began their second month Monday with plans to follow up on big demonstrations that swept through the popular Times Square area over the weekend.

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Air France-KLM CEO Resigns

The head of Air France-KLM Pierre-Henri Gourgeon resigned Monday at an extraordinary board of directors meeting, a company statement said.

He will be replaced by as CEO by Jean-Cyril Spinetta who was already serving as the chairman of the board of directors and played a key role in setting up the Air-France KLM group.

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