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China 2013 Trade Passes $4 Trillion

China's annual trade in goods passed the $4 trillion mark for the first time in 2013, official data showed Friday, confirming its position as the globe's biggest trading nation.

Exports from the world's number two economy rose 7.9 percent to $2.21 trillion, while imports increased 7.3 percent to $1.95 trillion, the General Administration of Customs announced.

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Singapore Monitoring New Forms of Illicit Financing

Asian financial hub Singapore on Friday said it was scrutinizing trade in virtual currencies such Bitcoin, precious stones and metals to forestall new forms of illicit financing by criminals and terrorists.

In an inaugural report on money laundering and terrorist financing risks, the city-state said these sectors were identified for further study "as technology evolves and criminals become more sophisticated".

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Malaysia, Turkey ِAim to Conclude Free-Trade Deal

Malaysia and Turkey pledged Friday to wrap up a free-trade deal this year as embattled Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepared to return home to a political crisis.

Erdogan met with his host, Malaysian premier Najib Razak, on the final day of a week-long trip that earlier took him to Japan and Singapore.

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Greek Fraud Probe over Postal Bank Loans Nets Three Suspects

At least three people including a prominent businessman have been arrested in Greece in a probe over unsecured loans from ex-state Hellenic Postbank, authorities said on Thursday.

An anti-corruption magistrate ordered the arrests late on Wednesday in connection with loans issued by the postal bank about a decade ago, a justice source said.

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Eurozone Business, Consumer Confidence Best Since July 2011

Eurozone business and consumer confidence in December rose to levels last seen in July 2011 as the economy recovers from a hugely damaging recession, official data showed Thursday.

The European Commission said its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the eurozone rose 1.6 points to 100, with the wider 28-nation European Union up 1.4 points to 103.5.

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Turkey Says Halkbank to Keep Mediating Iran Oil Payments

Turkey said on Wednesday that the state-owned Halkbank, whose chief executive was rounded up in a sweeping graft probe, would keep on handling payments for energy imports from neighboring Iran.

"The Iranian state has accounts with Halkbank. We deposit the payments for the oil and gas to these accounts," Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said in an interview with Bloomberg HT television.

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Qantas Struggles as Moody's Downgrades Airline to 'Junk'

Australian carrier Qantas said it was facing some of its toughest-ever challenges on Thursday as Moody's downgraded its credit rating to junk, with the airline battling intense competition and spiraling costs.

Moody's cited "a sharp deterioration in the company's core domestic business" following the airline's shock profit warning and announcement of job cuts in December, which had already prompted Standard and Poor's to assign it junk status.

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East Libya Activists Vow to Defy Tripoli on Oil Sales

Self-rule activists in eastern Libya, who have been blockading key oil terminals for months, said Wednesday they would resume exports outside central government control and in defiance of the navy.

The announcement by the head of the self-declared Cyrenaica regional government marked a sharp escalation of its standoff with Tripoli, which on Sunday deployed the navy to prevent two tankers docking in the activist-held eastern port of Al-Sedra to take on crude.

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Eurostat: Eurozone November Unemployment 12.1%, Unchanged

The eurozone unemployment rate continued near record highs at 12.1 percent in November, unchanged from the October level, as a modest recovery produced few new jobs, official data showed on Wednesday.

There were about 19.24 million jobless in the eurozone in November, up 4,000 from October but soaring by 452,000 compared with November 2012 as the debt crisis peaked, the Eurostat statistics agency said.

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Facebook Buys Indian Mobile Tech Start-Up 'Little Eye'

Facebook has bought an Indian mobile technology start-up called Little Eye Labs, the first business deal in the country by the world's biggest social network, the Indian firm said.

With Facebook users increasingly logging in from mobile phones, Bangalore-based Little Eye will help Facebook develop performance analysis and monitoring tools that provide data such as the memory and power consumption of applications.

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