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Turkish Lira Slumps to New Low as Government Steps up Pressure on Central Bank

Turkish lira struck to a new record low for a third consecutive day on Thursday as the government stepped up pressure on the central bank to lower interest rates, damaging investor confidence. 

The lira briefly broke through the psychological barrier of 2.6 to the dollar, before recovering back to 2.5943 in afternoon trade. 

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Fraud Office Probes Bank of England Auctions

Britain's Serious Fraud Office is investigating money-market auctions launched by the Bank of England during the financial crisis, the central bank has said, dealing another blow to the City's reputation.

The bank said that it had commissioned an inquiry into "liquidity auctions during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008," and had referred the results to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in November.

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China Extends Military Splurge with 10.1% Budget Increase

China unveiled a fresh double-digit spending boost for its military -- the world's largest -- on Thursday with a 10.1 percent increase in 2015, as it pursues a series of territorial disputes with its neighbours.

Beijing plans to raise its military spending to 886.9 billion yuan ($141.4 billion), according to a budget report to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the communist-controlled legislature.

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Greece, QE Program to Top ECB Meeting in Nicosia

The European Central Bank, meeting in Cyprus on Thursday, is set to update its economic forecasts and reveal details of its new bond purchase program, analysts said.

Greece will also be high on the agenda of the ECB's decision-making governing council, following the recent eurozone deal to extend aid to the debt-wracked country, the experts said.

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IMF Rules out Fresh Bailout for Sri Lanka

The IMF on Wednesday ruled out a fresh bail-out for Sri Lanka, which had hoped to secure loans of more than $4.0 billion to restructure expensive debt taken on by the previous regime.

Much of the country's post-war infrastructure under the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapakse was funded with Chinese debt and the new government had hoped to retire some of those loans.

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Hollande Promises New Savings to Meet 4bn-euro Brussels Demand

French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday his government would find 4 billion euros in "new savings" this year to meet demands from Brussels. 

"If Brussels asks for 4 billion more to respect our obligations in reducing the public deficit, they will be found with new savings," said Hollande in an interview with daily Le Parisien.

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Report: S. Korea Finance Minister Voices Deflation Fears

South Korea's Finance Minister Choi Kyung-Hwan voiced deflation concerns Wednesday after inflation last month hit its lowest level in more than 15 years, despite record low interest rates.

"Concerns about deflation are worrying due to a prolonged period of low inflation," Choi was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as telling a forum in Seoul.

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Oil Prices Mixed in Asian Trade

Oil prices were mixed in Asia Wednesday ahead of the release of a key U.S. supply report and as dealers eyed escalating violence in crude producer Libya, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery gained two cents to $50.54 while Brent crude for April fell 29 cents to $60.73 in afternoon trade.

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Egyptians Race to Expand Suez Canal, Hoping for Trade Surge

Bulldozers push earth and dredgers spit mud round the clock at Egypt's Suez Canal in a race to quickly expand the strategic waterway for two-way traffic, a project trumpeted by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to revive both the country's damaged economy and visions of nationalist glory.

The government's goal of more than doubling annual canal revenues to some $13 billion in less than a decade, however, appears overly ambitious. Although more vessels will be drawn to the canal because there will be almost no wait time, any major increase depends on something unlikely to happen soon, analysts and shippers say — a large jump in European demand fueling greater shipping from Asia.

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S. Korea, Saudi Sign Nuclear Cooperation Memo

South Korea and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum on nuclear cooperation during a visit by President Park Geun-Hye that began Tuesday, official media said.

The two sides reached a "memorandum of understanding in the field of nuclear cooperation programs," a partnership in research and skills development, the state Saudi Press Agency said.

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