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Fed Move Spurs 'Santa Claus Rally' as U.S. Stocks Gain

U.S. stocks went from famine to feast this week, starting out fearful of crashing oil prices and finishing it smiling at a "Santa Claus rally."

The turnaround came Wednesday, the first of three buoyant sessions that by week's end left the S&P 500 in positive territory for December.

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IMF Holds Backs Cyprus Rescue Cash

The International Monetary Fund held back 86 million euros ($106 million) in bailout funds for Cyprus Friday after the island's parliament delayed a vote on foreclosure legislation demanded by lenders.

The money is part of a 10-billion euro package of emergency loans that eurozone member Cyprus was forced to negotiate to avoid bankruptcy early last year.

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Govt: China Total GDP Revised Up 3.4% in 2013

China's gross domestic product (GDP) turned out to be 3.4 percent larger last year than originally announced, the government said Friday after a national survey -- a revision equal to about the size of Malaysia's economy.

The world's second biggest economy was valued at 58.80 trillion yuan ($9.5 trillion currently) in 2013, the National Bureau of statistics (NBS) said in a statement, quoting a survey of 70 million businesses across the country.

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BoJ Strikes More Upbeat View on Economy, Holds off Fresh Measures

The Bank of Japan on Friday struck a more upbeat view of the world's number three economy, saying exports were showing signs of picking up while factory output has started to "bottom out".

The comments came after policymakers wrapped up a two-day meeting where they voted by an 8-1 margin to hold off fresh easing measures, after announcing in late October a huge expansion of the BoJ's asset-buying program.

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Oil Rebounds in Volatile Year-End Trade

Oil prices edged up in Asia Friday after falling sharply in the previous session, as analysts predicted increased volatility and no end in sight this year to tumbling prices.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery rose 73 cents to $54.84, while Brent crude for February gained 32 cents to $59.59 in afternoon trade.

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EU Backs New Sanctions as Summit Weighs Russia Crisis

The EU agreed new sanctions against Russian-annexed Crimea Thursday to show resolve against Moscow as European leaders prepared to discuss Russia's spiraling financial crisis amid fears of the impact on their economies.

The leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels will also back a huge 315-billion-euro ($380-billion) investment plan aimed at kickstarting Europe's stalling economy, although pledges of hard cash are expected to be lacking.

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Saudi Minister: 'Impossible' for Saudi to Reduce Oil Output

Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the OPEC oil cartel, cannot reduce its output, the kingdom's oil minister said on Thursday despite plunging prices.

Ali al-Nuaimi added that commodity price fluctuations are to be expected, and he expressed optimism for the future despite crude's price drop of about 50 percent since June.

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Gulf Stocks Rebound Strongly as Oil Price Steadies

Gulf stock markets rebounded strongly on Thursday as world oil prices steadied after plumbing multi-year lows, calming investor jitters.

Dubai Financial Market Index -- which had been the region's biggest loser -- rose 11.5 percent and was trading on 3,381.99 points.

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Swiss Central Bank Introduces Negative Interest Rate

Switzerland's central bank announced Thursday it was introducing negative interest rates to stop the franc getting any stronger, after the Russian ruble crisis sent investors pouring their investments into the safe haven currency.

The Swiss National Bank will impose a rate of -0.25 percent on certain bank deposits on January 22, with the aim of pushing the target range of Switzerland's benchmark interest rate into negative territory.

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Putin Promises Economic Recovery to Worried Russia

President Putin on Thursday attempted to assuage fears of economic collapse and promised rapid recovery as he faced hundreds of journalists during the worst financial crisis of his rule.

Speaking at his annual press-conference, the Russian leader said that the economic downturn will last two years at the most and he promised to support the poorest segment of the population.

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