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Japan Oil Giants to Merge as Industry Faces Downturn

Two of Japan's biggest oil refiners said Thursday they would merge in a bid to counter an industry downturn, creating a mega-firm that would control half of the country's crude market.

JX Holdings said it would join forces with smaller rival TonenGeneral Sekiyu and rename the combined firm Newco Group.

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Saudi Reserves Drop Further amid Low Oil Price

Saudi foreign reserves dropped further in October as the price of oil remained low, but they fell at slower rate than previous months, according to a report released Wednesday.

The kingdom's foreign reserves dropped to $644 billion at the end of October, down from $651 billion the previous month, Jadwa Investment said.   

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Nokia's Shareholders to Approve Alcatel-Lucent Deal

Shareholders in Finnish telecom group Nokia are widely expected to approve the company's acquisition of French-American rival Alcatel-Lucent at an extraordinary general meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Once the world's top mobile phone maker, Nokia hopes the merger will help it become the world's number one network equipment and service provider, with a combined revenue of nearly 25 billion euros ($26.5 billion).

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Eurozone Inflation Unchanged at a Low 0.1% in November

Eurozone inflation remained unchanged at a lower than expected 0.1 percent in November, official data said on Wednesday, giving further encouragement to the European Central Bank to pump up its stimulus.

ECB president Mario Draghi is widely expected to boost the central bank's contested bond-buying program on Thursday given low inflation levels across the 19 countries that share the euro.

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Australia Economy Expands with Shift away from Resource Boom

Australia's economy is on track for healthy growth this year, new figures showed Wednesday, with a bounce in exports helping accelerate its shift from an unprecedented resources boom.

The upbeat news follows tepid growth in recent months, as Australia's resource-driven economy has been hurt by softening Chinese demand for its commodities. 

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EU Bailout Fund Rescues Greece's Top Bank

The eurozone's bailout fund rescued Greece's largest bank on Tuesday, launching a recapitalization process that is a crucial part of the country's third loan program in five years.

The European Stability Mechanism unlocked 2.72 billion euros ($2.88 billion), to shore up Piraeus Bank, Greece's biggest lender, a statement said.

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'Come, Spend in Paris', French PM Urges Tourists

France's premier Tuesday urged tourists to come to Paris, spend money and enjoy the capital's cultural attractions to help boost the city in the wake of deadly jihadist attacks.

"Come to Paris, security conditions are assured," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on French radio, in what he described as a "message to all those tourists who cancelled their trip to Paris in recent days".

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China's Yuan Success Hinges on Reform despite IMF Move

The International Monetary Fund's recognition of China's currency is a step towards encouraging its global use, but banks will remain reluctant to hold yuan unless Beijing pushes deeper financial reforms, analysts say.

The Washington-based institution on Monday welcomed the yuan into its elite reserve currency basket known as "Special Drawing Rights", recognizing the ascendance of the Asian power, already the world's second largest economy.

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Report: Morgan Stanley Plans Hundreds of Layoffs

Morgan Stanley plans to cut hundreds of jobs in its debt and currencies division because of a drop in revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday.

Altogether, a quarter of the staff at this division of the U.S. investment bank could be made redundant, particularly in London and to a lesser degree in New York, the newspaper said, quoting people familiar with the matter.

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India's Central Bank Keeps Interest Rates Unchanged

India's central bank kept interest rates on hold Tuesday, citing rising inflation and "weakness" in Asia's third-largest economy despite recent growth.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate, the level at which it lends to commercial banks, would remain at 6.75 percent as analysts had expected.

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