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French Minister Says Country Has 'Total Confidence' in U.S. Economy

France has "total confidence" in the solidity of the U.S. economy, Economy Minister Francois Baroin told Agence France Presse on Saturday, the first European minister to react to the U.S. rating downgrade.

"France has total confidence in the solidity and the fundamentals of the U.S. economy, and the American government's determination to implement the plan (to reduce the deficit) approved by Congress this week," he said.

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In Abu Dhabi, Lingerie Reflects UAE's Retail Pull

It could have picked London or Hong Kong. Instead, the lingerie retailer that styles itself "the original sex symbol" chose the buttoned-down sheikdom of Abu Dhabi for the launch of its first international store.

Frederick's of Hollywood, famed for its curve-cinching corsets and provocative push-up bras, opened up to little fanfare in the Emirati capital last weekend. Another outpost offering the chain's racy lingerie is set to open soon up the road in more freewheeling Dubai.

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Spain Central Bank Presses EU to Act Quickly on Greece

Spain's central bank called Friday on Europe to rapidly implement a Greek bailout, blaming the snowballing eurozone sovereign debt crisis for crimping economic growth.

Spain's faltering economy slowed in the second quarter, the Bank of Spain said in a report, identifying the sovereign debt crisis as the biggest threat to the economy.

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Asia Markets Plunge Amid Recession Fears

Asian stock markets plummeted on Friday following carnage in the U.S. and European markets over fears the world was heading towards another financial crisis.

Already-fragile investor confidence was hammered by more weak U.S. economic data and a warning from the head of the European Commission that the Eurozone debt crisis had likely spread to other economies.

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EU’s Barroso Says Time to Rethink Eurozone Rescue Plans

The head of the European Commission on Thursday urged national leaders to re-think the euro's financial defenses, after admitting debt contagion has now spread beyond the Eurozone periphery.

Jose Manuel Barroso urged in a letter to the 27 European Union leaders "a rapid re-assessment of all elements related to the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) and concomitantly the ESM (European Stability Mechanism)."

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Japan Intervenes in Currency Markets to Weaken Yen

Japan on Thursday took steps to weaken the yen in an effort to help safeguard the nation's post-quake recovery after the unit's recent surge towards a post-war high.

The government intervened unilaterally in currency markets to counter "one-sided" and "excessive" speculator-driven movements in the yen that it said threatened Japan's recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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Berlusconi Holds Economic Talks Under Market Pressure

Italy's leading trade unions and the main employers group presented Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with requests to boost economic growth at talks Thursday aimed at shoring up market confidence.

No details of the five-point plan were immediately available but Italy's main economic players last month asked for "a pact for growth" to fend off pressure from investors worried about high debt in the Eurozone’s third largest economy.

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AXA Says Profits Soar, Boosted by Exceptional Gains

French insurance giant AXA said on Thursday that first-half net profit had surged more than fourfold to 3.99 billion euros ($5.71 billion), beating forecasts as the company avoided being hit hard by a Greek debt charge.

AXA said its earnings were up 324 percent from the equivalent figure last year while analysts had expected a net profit of about 3.7 billion euros.

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Oil Prices Slide on Growth, Debt Worries

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, dragged down by concerns that demand will weaken due to slowing economic growth and the Eurozone debt crisis as traders awaited data on U.S. crude inventory levels.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, slipped 39 cents to $93.40 a barrel.

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Hitachi Mulls Ending Domestic TV Production

Japanese high-tech maker Hitachi said Wednesday it is considering shifting all television production to foreign outsourcing firms by March as part of a broad strategy to increase profitability.

Hitachi, whose products range from microchips to nuclear power equipment, has not made a final decision about the plan, a spokesman added.

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