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German Central Bank Raises Growth Forecast

Germany's central bank raised its growth forecast for the German economy next year to 1.7 percent on Friday, citing expanding domestic demand in its upbeat assessment.

The forecast was up from the Bundesbank's prediction made in June of 1.5 percent gross domestic product growth for 2014 based on an easing of the wider eurozone crisis.

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Clock Ticking as WTO Meeting Fights to Strike Deal

World commerce ministers engaged in feverish bargaining Friday, trying to salvage a trade package on the final day of a WTO meeting amid warnings that failure could permanently cripple the global trade body.

New World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo of Brazil is pushing for agreement on a modest package of measures at a conference on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

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World Bank Sets Goal for Access to Health Care

Ensuring greater access to affordable health care is a crucial factor in alleviating poverty and promoting economic growth, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Friday in announcing ambitious targets for preventing and treating chronic illnesses in developing countries.

About 100 million people are impoverished by medical expenses each year. The World Bank and World Health Organization aim by 2020 to reduce that figure by half and by 2030 to eliminate it altogether.

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China Mobile Denies iPhone Deal Reached with Apple

China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless operator, said Thursday it is still negotiating with U.S. technology giant Apple over offering iPhones on its huge network and that a deal has yet to be reached.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed sources as saying that the two companies have inked an agreement to add iPhones to the colossal telecom firm's roster of compatible devices later this month.

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Qantas to Cut 1,000 Jobs, Says Challenges "Immense"

Australian carrier Qantas announced the axing of 1,000 jobs and warned of "immense" challenges ahead in a shock profit downgrade Thursday, flagging a half-year loss of up to Aus$300 million (U.S.$271 million).

Chief executive Alan Joyce said conditions had seen a "marked" deterioration and the airline was battling "extraordinary circumstances" including record fuel costs, a strong Australian dollar and fierce competition from subsidized rivals.

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Tokyo to Launch $53.8 bn Stimulus Package

Tokyo will announce a spending package worth almost $54 billion on Thursday, media reports said, in a bid to offset a tax hike that comes into effect next year and which critics fear will derail Japan's economic recovery.

The 5.5-trillion-yen ($53.8 billion) stimulus will reportedly be loaded with public works spending, including construction projects for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,rebuilding coastal communities shattered by the 2011 quake-tsunami and updating the country's ageing infrastructure.

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Samsung Floats World's Largest Vessel

South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has floated a tanker-shaped vessel tagged as the world's largest "floating facility" with a length greater than the height of the Empire State Building in New York.

A Samsung spokeswoman said Thursday that the 488 meters (1,601 feet) long floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform -- named "Prelude" -- was set in the water at its southern shipyard in Geoje on November 30.

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Deutsche Bank Unit in Tokyo Hit by Wining and Dining Scandal

Japanese police Thursday arrested a salesman at a Deutsche Bank unit on suspicion of bribery over claims he lavishly wined and dined a senior pension fund manager, officials and reports said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested Shigeru Echigo, a 36-year-old employee at Deutsche Securities, the investment banking arm in Tokyo of Germany's biggest lender.

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Swiss Money Pool Goes on Sale

Fancy taking a dip in a sea of Swiss francs, or scooping up fistfuls of coins? Your wildest dreams could come true thanks to a sale with a political edge.

Would-be buyers have a chance to snap up a century-old huge safe deposit vault containing eight million five centime coins, or 400,000 Swiss francs (325,000 euros, $441,000).

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EU Fines Eight Banks Record 1.7 bn Euros for Rate Fixing

The European Union fined eight finance groups a record 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) on Wednesday for rigging the Euribor and Japanese yen Tibor interest rates.

German Deutsche Bank, involved in rigging both rates, was fined a total of 725 million euros, and French Societe Generale was fined 446 million euros for manipulating the European Euribor rate.

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