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Japan Pledges $60 bn to IMF for Europe Firewall

Japan said Tuesday it would pledge $60.0 billion to the International Monetary Fund, saying it was a critical part of the organization’s bid to boost a global firewall against Europe's debt crisis.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi said he hoped the move would spur other nations to kick in funds, which he said were "crucial not only to the Eurozone but also to Asia and Japan if we are to ensure that the crisis is completely over."

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Senate Republicans Reject Obama-Backed 'Buffett Rule'

U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday rejected the White House-backed "Buffett Rule" aimed at hiking tax rates on millionaires, a move both sides will use as campaign benchmarks ahead of the November election.

President Barack Obama had spent much of the past week pushing the Paying A Fair Share Act, arguing its mandate of a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for people making more than $1 million would help bring a level of fairness to the tax code as working-class Americans struggle with economic hardship.

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Korean-American Jim Yong Kim the New World Bank President

The World Bank chose Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim as its next chief Monday in a decision that surprised few but took beating an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. lock on the Bank's presidency.

The Bank picked the 52-year-old U.S. health expert and educator over Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala amid rising pressure from emerging and developing countries for the huge development lender to recruit one of their own for a leader.

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Russia's 'Classic' 1982 Lada Laid to Rest

Russia's main car maker Lada said on Monday it was pulling one of its classic 1982 models from production after sales shrank for a vehicle that was dated from the moment it was introduced.

"Demand for the 'classic' has dropped a lot. It is time to say goodbye," company spokesman Igor Burenkov said in a statement released to Agence France Presse.

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Iran Kicks Off $1-bn Project to Bring Water to Desert

Iran on Monday officially launched a $1-billion first phase of an ambitious project to pump water from the Caspian Sea to a city in its vast and expanding central desert, state media reported.

The initial phase will see a desalination plant and pipes built over the next two years to supply water to the desert city of Semnan, population 200,000, according to officials.

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Short-Term Boost to Britain’s Ailing Economy

The London Olympics will give a short-term boost to Britain's weak economy but economists predict the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth will fail to prevent a sharp slowdown this year.

The government has invested a total of £9.3 billion ($14.8 million, 11.2 billion euros) to stage the Games, more than four times the original estimate when London was named host city in 2005.

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Oil Down To Near $102 after Iran Nuclear Talks

Oil fell to near $102 a barrel Monday in Asia after negotiators said meetings over Iran's nuclear program last weekend began on a positive note.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 78 cents to $102.05 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to settle at $102.83 in New York on Friday.

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Colombian Economist Exits World Bank Race

Colombian economist Jose Antonio Ocampo withdrew Friday from the race to lead the World Bank, calling the process a "political exercise" unrelated to candidate merits, Colombian media reported.

The former Colombian finance minister also blamed lack of formal support from his own government, saying that had hindered his ability to garner the backing of other countries, according to a statement published by the Colombian media.

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China to Widen Yuan Trading Band against Dollar

China's central bank said it would widen the Yuan’s trading band against the dollar, loosening currency controls in a major step towards adopting more market-oriented reforms.

The Yuan is currently allowed to trade 0.5 percent on either side of a midpoint price set by the central bank every trading day.

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Hybrid and Electric Cars See Record Sales in March

Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gas prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the U.S. auto market.

Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars in March, up from 34,000 during the same month last year.

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