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Israel Seeks to Turn Gas to Gold

Israel is putting together a plan for a national investment fund that would tap an anticipated natural gas bonanza to fuel both an export-geared economy and provide a nest egg of $10 billion in under a decade for future generations.

The proposed Israeli sovereign wealth fund is still in the planning phase, but officials have said some of the revenues would be invested in strategically critical targets such as education and health.

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Iran Ups Bank Interest Rate to Buoy Rial

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has approved an increase in bank interest rates in a bid to absorb liquidity in the market and supporting the Iranian currency.

Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini was quoted Wednesday by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Ahmadinejad approved a decision by Iran's Money and Credit Council to raise interest rates on deposits to 21 percent.

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Dubai Ruler's Firm Vows to Repay $500M in Debt

An investment company owned by Dubai's ruler says it will repay $500 million in bonds next week, distancing itself from other debt-laden firms in the Gulf emirate.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group confirmed Wednesday it will repay the bonds on Feb. 1, using funds from its internal cash flow.

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U.S. Set to Cut Pentagon Budget 5%

The U.S. defense budget to be proposed next month by President Barack Obama will cut military spending five percent to $525 million, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The fiscal 2013 budget proposal will show the first decline since the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the base Pentagon budget, which excludes operations in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Britain's Net Debt Hits Record £1.0 Trillion

Britain's state borrowing fell by more than expected last month but not by enough to prevent its net debt from reaching a record high £1.0 trillion ($1.55 trillion), official data showed Tuesday.

Public sector net borrowing excluding the government's interventions in the financial sector hit £13.7 billion in December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

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European Stocks Drop Amid Greece Pressure

European stock markets slid and the euro steadied Tuesday after Eurozone finance ministers heaped pressure on Greece to prevent a debt default and following a positive bond auction for Spain.

Shares in French banks retreated sharply, with Societe Generale losing more than 5.0 percent, after Standard and Poor's downgraded most following its downgrade of France's sovereign rating.

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'World's Cheapest Car' Tag Backfires for India's Nano

When India's Tata Motors' Nano went on sale in 2009, the concept of the "world's cheapest car" in one of the world's fastest growing auto markets seemed pre-destined for commercial success.

Logically, the strategy appeared faultless -- offering an affordable solution to millions of aspirational lower-middle class Indian families wanting to make the social and practical leap from two wheels to four.

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Report: Kuwait Reaches Deal with Total for China Refinery

Kuwait Petroleum Corp. has reached a deal with France's Total to be a partner in a Kuwait-China refinery joint venture, the Kuwaiti oil minister was Tuesday quoted as saying.

Mohammad al-Baseeri said the deal was struck after Shell withdrew from talks in the $9 billion refinery and petrochemical complex, Al-Jarida newspaper reported.

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Salameh: Banking Sector to Abide by Syria Sanctions

Lebanon's banking sector will abide by international sanctions against unrest-swept Syria, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Tuesday.

"Lebanese banks both at home and abroad ... will not take any action, especially as concerns Syria, that could expose any of our banking partners or put them in a position whereby they have breached regulations in their countries," said Salameh.

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BA Says will Resume Libya Flights in May

British Airways will resume its flights to Libya's capital Tripoli in May, 15 months after they were suspended due to violent unrest in the North African country, the airline announced on Monday.

"British Airways plans to resume flights to Tripoli from Tuesday May 1, 2012," said a statement from the company, which is now part of International Airlines Group alongside Spain's Iberia.

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