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Moody's Lowers Rating on Sony, Panasonic

Moody's on Friday downgraded Japanese electronics titans Sony and Panasonic, warning both companies faced a long struggle if they were to get back on a firm financial footing.

The agency lowered its assessment on debt issued by Sony from A3 to Baa1, citing "weak and volatile" earnings, while Panasonic slipped a notch from A1 to A2, on fears "the weakness in Panasonic's profile will continue".

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Greece Races for Double Debt Deals in Last-Ditch Talks

Greece raced on Friday to clinch debt-saving deals in parallel negotiations with private creditors and its EU-IMF bailout partners ahead of a looming default in March.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was scheduled to meet again with global bank group representatives after late-night talks on Thursday as his finance minister held talks with senior EU-IMF auditors on a new Eurozone rescue loan.

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Syria Loses $2 bn over Oil Sanctions

Syria has lost more than $2 billion in revenues since September 1 as a result of European and U.S. bans on importing its oil, Oil Minister Sufian Allaw said on Thursday.

"We have suffered important losses as a result of our inability to export crude oil and petroleum products," Allaw told a news conference in Damascus.

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Markets Subdued as Greek Debt Talks Remain Focus

Financial markets were subdued Thursday as investors awaited developments in Greece's debt-reduction talks with private creditors, a day after the International Monetary Fund revealed it was looking to get its hands on another half a trillion dollars to help it shore up a fragile global economy.

Another successful bond auction from Spain and relief that Germany's second-largest bank, Commerzbank AG, won't need to help from shareholders or the government to boost its capital base helped ease concerns over Europe's debt crisis in the run-up to a raft of U.S. corporate earnings.

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Japan Ready to Help Europe Through IMF

Japan said Thursday it was ready to answer an International Monetary Fund call for extra cash to help Europe steer a course through its sovereign debt crisis, a report said.

"Japan is prepared to support European efforts to stabilize the market, including through lending to the IMF, based on strong efforts by European countries," Dow Jones Newswires quoted an unnamed senior government official as saying.

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France and Spain Gingerly Return to Bond Market

France and Spain gingerly return to the bond markets Thursday, testing appetite for their debt after a raft of Eurozone credit downgrades, as world powers debated boosting the IMF bail-out fund.

The key test for two of the single currency bloc's biggest economies came as its weakest, Greece, was trying to negotiate a deal with private creditors to slash 100 billion euros ($128 billion) from its debt.

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China Agency Warns of Collapse in Euro Confidence

Chinese ratings agency Dagong has warned that Europe's debt problems would cause a collapse of confidence in the euro, and predicted a worsening of the global financial crisis this year.

The agency said the world's economic woes would grow more severe in 2012, with the sovereign debt crisis developing into a "currency crisis" as investor confidence in the euro continued to suffer.

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Kodak Files for Ch. 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Photography icon Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as it seeks to boost its cash position and stay in business.

The move comes as the ailing company has failed to find a buyer for its trove of 1,100 digital imaging patents. Kodak said in November that it could run out of cash in a year if it didn't sell the patents, for which it hoped to fetch billions.

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Oil Rises on Weak Dollar, Despite IEA Demand Downgrade

Oil prices rose Wednesday on the weaker dollar and mostly positive global data as traders ignored news that the International Energy Agency had cut its estimate for demand growth in 2012, traders said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in February, increased 60 cents to $101.31 a barrel.

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Crucial Debt Talks to Resume in Athens

Global bank representatives are due back in Athens to restart debt talks later Wednesday with the government in negotiations that are crucial to avoid a disastrous default.

The heads of the Institute of International Finance, a global banking association, are to return after negotiations stalled last week.

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