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Brazil Beams with Pride Over Sixth-Place Economic Ranking

Brazil beamed with pride Tuesday on news that it has powered past Britain to become the world's sixth biggest economy but officials say it will take another 20 years before the country can match the Europeans' standard of living.

"From a psychological standpoint, this is a fantastic year-end victory," Ricardo Teixeira, an administration professor at the prestigious Getulio Vargas foundation in Rio, told Agence France Presse.

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Saudi Needs $74 Oil Price to Balance Budget

Saudi Arabia will need a breakeven crude oil price of $74 per barrel to generate the funds required to meet its widening expenditure next year, Jadwa Investment said on Tuesday.

The OPEC kingpin announced on Monday yet another expansionary budget with spending marked at 690 billion riyals ($184 billion), and revenues reaching 702 billion riyals.

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German Economy 'Downright Robust'

The German economy is starting the new year in "downright robust" form, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said in a newspaper interview Tuesday.

"Our economy is downright robust, even if the environment, both at an international and a European level, has become more difficult," Roesler told the business daily Handelsblatt.

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Saudi Posts $81.6 Billion Budget Surplus as Revenues Double

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia on Monday posted a budget surplus of 306 billion riyals (81.6 billion) for 2011, as revenues turned out to be double the forecast, the finance ministry said.

The world's largest crude oil exporter had expected a deficit of 40 billion riyals ($10.7 billion), or 7.4 percent, with planned expenditure of 580 billion riyals ($154.7 billion).

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Turks and Azeris in Gas Pipeline Deal

Turkey and Azerbaijan signed on Monday an agreement to build a pipeline to carry 10 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas to European markets starting in 2017, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The deal comes as the EU's plans to build the so-called Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to bring in Caspian Sea gas and reduce Europe's dependence on Russia has struggled to sign up suppliers.

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Abu Dhabi Developer Considers Further Asset Sales

The struggling state-backed developer of Abu Dhabi's Formula One complex and other major real estate projects is considering selling off additional assets as it copes with an ongoing property slump.

Aldar Properties said in a regulatory filing Monday its board will meet Wednesday to discuss what holdings might be sold.

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London Tube Drivers Strike over Public Holiday Pay

London Underground drivers on Monday walked out in a row over pay, threatening disruption for shoppers at the start of the post-Christmas sales and football fans hoping to catch a festive fixture.

Members of train drivers' union ASLEF voted overwhelmingly to hold a 24-hour strike on Boxing Day and on three more dates in the coming weeks in a move business chiefs warned could hit ailing retailers.

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Honeymoon Over for Europeans and Their Money

The euro, rolled out as a cash currency with a string of promises about easy travel, European unity and stable prices, has left crisis-rattled consumers decidedly ambivalent a decade on.

On the streets of Berlin, Madrid, and Bratislava, the view is similar: despite its clear upsides, the transition to the euro hiked the cost of living even as it introduced deep political and economic uncertainty in the bloc.

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China, Japan Unveil Deals to Tighten Finance Ties

Chinese and Japanese leaders have unveiled initiatives to tighten financial links between East Asia's economic giants and sometime rivals — measures that could expand use of China's tightly controlled currency abroad.

During a visit to Beijing by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the two governments said in a surprise announcement Sunday they will encourage use of their own currencies in bilateral trade, which now is conducted mostly in U.S. dollars.

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Asia Stocks Mixed after Weak U.S. Economy Indicators

Asian stock markets are mixed in holiday-thinned trading Monday after weak U.S. indicators dulled optimism about prospects for the world's biggest economy.

Several markets are closed including Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand. Oil traders are also on holiday. Wall Street will be closed Monday because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year.

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