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Merkel Flies High as Germans See Crisis Beatable

Chancellor Angela Merkel's party is at its most popular since her government was elected in 2009 despite the crisis, which a majority of Germans believe can be overcome, polls showed Wednesday.

Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) are polling at 38 percent, a Forsa survey for Stern magazine showed, the highest level since August 2009, a month before the election which swept her to a second term in power.

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Greece Faces Hour of Decision on Austerity and Rescue

Greece reached the hour of decision on Wednesday over more budget cuts demanded by the EU and IMF and a debt deal to obtain a second rescue and close a key chapter in the Eurozone crisis.

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Saudi 'Pledges Secure Energy Supply' to S. Korea

Saudi Arabia has pledged to ensure a stable supply of oil to South Korea, which is under pressure from the United States to reduce purchases from Iran, a report said on Wednesday.

The assurances came as South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak held talks in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday with Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and the head of Saudi state oil giant Aramco, Khalid al-Faleh.

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Israel Hit by General Strike

Half a million Israeli public and private sector workers began a general strike on Wednesday, shutting down government offices, banks and airport traffic over the rights of contract workers.

Trade union umbrella group Histadrut announced the general strike would go into effect early on Wednesday morning, after late-night talks between the powerful association and the finance ministry broke down.

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Commercial Traffic Resumes on Shatt al-Arab

Commercial traffic has resumed on the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway after 31 years, with the official opening of a port for oil giant Shell, an Iraqi official said on Tuesday.

Part of the 200 kilometer (120 mile) long waterway forms a section of the border with Iran. An unresolved boundary dispute was a major reason cited by now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein for the 1980-88 war with Iran, which resulted in the waterway's closing.

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Oil Drops Below $97 as Traders Eye U.S. Supplies

Oil prices slipped below $97 a barrel on Tuesday as traders worried that U.S. crude supplies will continue to rise because of weak demand.

Benchmark crude for March delivery fell 61 cents at $96.30 a barrel by late morning European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 93 cents to settle at $96.91 on Monday.

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Air France to Axe Long-Haul Flights Amid Strike

French flag-carrier Air France warned it would cancel up to half of its long-haul flights Tuesday as employees pursued a strike against plans to require them to give 48 hours’ notice of a walk-out.

After causing limited disruption on Monday, the four-day strike by pilots, flight attendants and airport staff picked up steam.

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BP Bounces Back with Annual Net Profit of $23.9 Billion

BP said that net profits hit $23.9 billion in 2011 after a loss the previous year when the British energy giant was ravaged by U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

BP bounced back with adjusted profit after tax equivalent to 18.2 billion euros last year, helped by higher oil prices and divestments.

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Iraq-Turkey Oil Exports Resume after Blast

Iraq has resumed oil exports via an undamaged pipeline to Turkey after they were cut by an explosion in the country's northern neighbor, officials said on Monday.

About a quarter of Iraqi oil exports are routed by pipeline to Turkey.

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Saudi Snow: New Mall Plans Indoor Winter 'Village'

Dubai's famed indoor ski slope is about to get some Gulf competition. Saudi developers say they plan a "snow village" inside a new mall in Riyadh.

A statement on company websites Monday says the latest snow-in-the-desert attraction will be part of an entertainment area in the mall, which is scheduled to be opened later this year in the Saudi capital.

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