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U.N. Agency Says Global Tourism Hits New Record

International tourism grew by almost five percent in the first half of the year, recording a record 440 million arrivals, the World Tourism Organization said Thursday.

The results show that "in spite of multiple challenges, international tourism continues to consolidate the return to growth initiated in 2010," the U.N. body said in its report.

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Tired Western Brands Find New Life in Asia

Faded and forgotten Western brands are being dusted off and brought back to life by companies in Asia targeting the burgeoning number of people looking for labels to match new middle class lifestyles.

Asians have been buying or licensing fashion names — many of them European with long and rich histories including royal connections or haute couture origins — that have fallen out of favor back home, as they seek to lure the region's newly affluent.

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Gadhafi 'Sold 20% Of Libya's Gold' In Regime's Final Days

Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sold more than 20 percent of Libya's gold reserves, worth more than $1 billion, in the final days of his regime, the country's central bank governor said on Thursday.

Qassem Azzoz said 1.7 billion dinars worth of fold, or around 29 tons, were sold to local merchants as the regime ran short of cash.

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Vallares Buys Iraq-Focused Oil Producer for $2.1 Billion

Vallares, the investment vehicle led by ex-BP head Tony Hayward, announced on Wednesday a deal to buy Genel Energy International, the biggest oil producer in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, for $2.1 billion.

Iraq's Kurdistan government was expected to approve the deal later this month, Vallares said in a statement.

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Germany Says 'Impossible' to Kick Greece Out of Euro

It is "impossible" to exclude Greece from the euro as some people have been suggesting, German economy minister and deputy chancellor Philipp Roesler said in a newspaper interview Wednesday.

"You can't turn back the course of history. Excluding a country (from the Eurozone) would be impossible given the treaties currently in force," Roesler, who is also the head of the small liberal FDP party, told the regional daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

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S&P Issues Gloomy Outlook Rating for Shipping Giant CMA CGM

Shipping giant CMA CGM, the third-biggest container mover in the world, is at risk of breaching conditions on its debt and must take preventive action, ratings agency Standard & Poor's said on Wednesday,

The agency revised its outlook for the French group to negative on Wednesday, citing poor cash flow in a weak operating environment.

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Syrian Finance Chief: Asia Key to Bypass Sanctions

The embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad will seek to expand trade ties with markets in Asia and elsewhere to bypass European economic sanctions, Syria's finance minister said Wednesday at a meeting of Arab finance chiefs.

Mohammad Jleilati did not name specific countries for stronger economic bonds, but listed Russia, China and others in Asia as traditionally "friendly" to Syria.

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Starbucks Plans to Triple its China Coffee Shops

Starbucks Corp., the world's largest coffee retailer, plans to triple its coffee shops in China during the next four years and step up expansion elsewhere in Asia, an executive said Tuesday.

Starbucks plans to operate 1,500 outlets in China by 2015 from a current 470, the company's Asia Pacific president Jinlong Wang said. The company also expects to open 700 coffee shops in South Korea by 2016, up from 370 now, Wang said.

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Oil Falls to Near $84 on Global Slowdown Fears

Oil prices headed lower to near $84 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as fears of a recession in developed countries sent stock markets and commodities lower.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down $2.13 to $84.32 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude last settled at $86.45 on Friday because U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

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Swiss National Bank Pegs Franc to Euro

The Swiss National Bank on Tuesday decided to fix the country's exchange rate at 1.20 francs per euro and indicated it would buy an unlimited amount of euros regardless of the risk to maintain that value.

The central bank is exercising what many analysts in recent weeks had called the last-ditch "nuclear option" to shield the Swiss economy and exporters from the damaging impact of a strong franc.

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