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Obama Unfurls 11th-Hour Deal to Avert U.S. Default

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Sunday that he and top lawmakers had reached an 11th-hour deal to avert a first-ever U.S. debt payment default that would have sown chaos across the world economy.

"I want to announce that the leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default, a default that would have had a devastating effect on our economy," he said.

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Philippine Rebels Demand Stop to Oil, Gas Projects

The Philippines' largest Muslim guerrilla group has demanded the government halt any planned oil and gas explorations by foreign companies in vast southern areas they claim, warning Sunday that energy projects would complicate peace talks.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front refused to say what they would do if the government ignores their request.

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ECB Chief to Face Questions on Greek Bail-Out

European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet has a chance this week to weigh in at length on the latest Greek rescue.

Trichet is sure to face questions on the landmark second bailout of Greece in the press conference that will follow the ECB policy-setting meeting that should see interest rates stay on hold.

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Italy's Prodi Accuses Germany of 'Egoism' over Bond Sales

Italy's former prime minister Romano Prodi on Saturday accused Germany of "egoism" over a massive sale of Italian bonds by Deutsche Bank and said Italy was in a far stronger economic position than Spain.

The former European Commission president also said that the high rates at which Italy is being forced to issue bonds because of market jitters meant that sweeping budget cuts approved earlier this month would be "in vain".

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Pacific's Niue Looks to Tourism to Grow Population

In a once-thriving village on the Pacific island of Niue, homes lie abandoned, their stucco-clad walls mildewed and crumbling as the jungle slowly reclaims them.

"These villages used to be bustling with people -- now you go there in the afternoon and there's no one," says the Niue Tourism Authority chairman Hima Douglas.

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BSkyB Sweetens Shareholders, James Murdoch Remains Boss

British pay-TV giant BSkyB offered its shareholders over £1.0 billion in payouts Friday as it moves on from a failed takeover bid and phone-hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

After posting bumper underlying annual profits, BSkyB said it planned a share buyback of £750 million ($1.22 billion, 857 million Euros) and dividend of £253 million -- moves seen as calming the waters after a recent share price collapse.

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Oil Prices Drop on U.S. Debt Fears

Crude prices fell on Friday, with the U.S. debt stalemate continuing to roil markets as a vote in the House of Representatives on a Republican debt plan was postponed.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, fell 52 cents to $96.92 a barrel.

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U.N. Pays Out $1 Billion from Iraqi Oil Fund

A U.N. panel has approved more than $1 billion in compensation payments for victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The U.N. Compensation Commission says the money will go to five companies and four government or international bodies. It did not disclose the identities of the claimants Thursday but said all are in Kuwait.

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Ford Announces New $1 Billion Plant in India

U.S. auto giant Ford said Thursday it would invest $1 billion to build a second vehicle assembly and engine plant in India as it ramps up production to exploit the country's burgeoning car market.

India has become a battleground for global car manufacturers such as Ford, GM and Toyota which hope to offset sluggish domestic sales by steering towards India and China, seeing huge potential in their billion-plus populations.

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Top Lebanese Banks Make Profits in 1st Half of 2011

Top Lebanese banks have announced that they made good profits in the first six months of 2011 despite slow economic growth in Lebanon.

BankMed said in a statement Thursday that net profit for the first half of this year increased by 13% to reach $59.4 million compared to $52.6 million for the corresponding period last year.

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