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Swiss Central Bank Hard Hit by Gold Price Fall

Switzerland's central bank said on Monday it lost billions in 2013 amid a sharp drop in gold prices and that it therefore would not pay dividends to Bern or the Swiss cantons.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) said it expected to report a loss of 9.0 billion Swiss francs ($9.9 billion, 7.3 billion euros) in 2013, according to provisional figures.

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FT: EU Won't Seek Law to Separate Banking Activities

The European Union is set to drop financial reforms that would force big banks to ringfence their retail departments from riskier investment operations, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

A draft European Commission paper, seen by the business paper, would no longer make banks automatically split operations and would give national supervisors more leeway in applying the reforms.

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2014 Year of 'Hard Truths' for British Economy

British finance minister George Osborne will warn that 2014 is to be the year of "hard truths" and public spending cuts when he sets out his plans for the year ahead on Monday.

He will tell an audience in central England that there is "still a long way to go" in reducing the public deficit, despite three years of austerity, according to extracts released by his office.

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Chinese Tycoon Wants to 'Rebuild' New York Times

A Chinese tycoon said Monday he is serious about buying the New York Times and wants to work on "rebuilding its credibility and influence" by reforming its award-winning coverage of China.

Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China's 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his charitable giving, penned an op-ed in the state-run Global Times newspaper headlined: "I intend to buy The New York Times, please don't take it as a joke".

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Cubans Aghast at Car Prices as New Law Kicks in

Cubans are eagerly flocking to Havana car dealerships as a new law takes effect eliminating a special permit requirement that has greatly restricted vehicle ownership in the country. To their dismay on Friday, the first day the law was in force, they found sharply hiked prices, some of them light years beyond all but the most well-heeled islanders.

A new Kia Rio hatchback that starts at $13,600 in the United States sells for $42,000 here, while a fresh-off-the-lot Peugeot 508 family car, the most luxurious of which lists for the equivalent of about $53,000 in the U.K., will set you back a cool $262,000.

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Turkish Inflation Rate Rises on Plunging Lira

Turkey's year-end inflation rate increased to 7.4 percent in December, official statistics showed on Friday, as the effects of a plunging lire began to take effect on household prices.

The rate was considerably higher that central bank forecast of 6.8 percent for 2013 and came a day after the Turkish currency touched a new low against the dollar.

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Spain December Jobless Dip Best on Record for the Month

The Labor Ministry says the number of people registered as unemployed in Spain fell by 107,570 in December, the best drop on record for the month and welcome news for an economy struggling to emerge from more than two years of recession.

The ministry said Friday the decrease left the country's total number of unemployed at about 4.7 million.

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Company Leaving U.S. State over Gun Laws

One of the largest producers of ammunition magazines for guns in the U.S. is leaving Colorado and moving operations to Wyoming and Texas because of new state laws that include restrictions on how many cartridges a magazine can hold.

Erie, Colorado-based Magpul Industries Corp. announced Thursday that it was moving its production, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne and its headquarters to Texas, making good on a vow it made to leave Colorado during last year's gun control debate.

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U.S. Dollar Eases against Yen, Retreats from 5-Year High

The dollar fell against the yen in Asia Friday, extending losses seen in New York, as the unit retreated from a five-year high despite a broadly upbeat set of U.S. economic data.

The greenback bought 104.13 yen in Singapore afternoon trade, compared with 104.69 yen in New York on Thursday and well down from the 105.41 yen mark touched earlier this week, which was the highest since October 2008.

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Panama President Warns Spain and Italy over Canal Row

Panama's president warned Thursday he would visit Europe to force a consortium to drop a threat to suspend expansion work on the Panama Canal, as a row over a $1.6 billion cost overrun escalated.

A Spanish-led construction group has threatened to halt the massive project within three weeks if the Panama Canal Authority fails to pay for the extra costs.

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