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Russia to Place up to $7 Billion in Euro-bonds in 2012

Russia announced plans on Thursday to place up to $7.0 billion (5.4 billion euros') worth of Eurobonds next year depending on market conditions and the pace of Europe's recovery from its sovereign debt crisis.

"We will be placing them in parts depending on the situation on the market," news agencies quoted Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying.

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Oil Rises for 4th Day, Passes $99

Oil prices rose above $99 a barrel Thursday amid signs of growing U.S. crude demand and concerns about global supply.

Benchmark crude rose 93 cents to $99.60 per barrel in morning trading in New York. Brent crude rose 48 cents to $108.19 per barrel in London.

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U.S. Jobless Claims at Lowest Level since April 2008

Weekly claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since April 2008 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, yet another sign that the jobs market is in recovery.

The data was better than most economists expected, with claims hitting 364,000 last week versus the consensus estimate of 380,000.

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HSBC Offloads Japan Business to Credit Suisse

HSBC said Wednesday it had sold its private banking business in Japan to Credit Suisse for $2.7 billion, as part of its broader restructuring to reduce costs and focus on growth.

The sale is the latest in a string of transactions since HSBC announced massive cost-cutting measures earlier this year, including plans to save up to $3.5 billion by 2013 and to axe 30,000 jobs globally.

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Asian Markets Rise on Upbeat U.S., European News

Asian markets enjoyed some Christmas cheer Wednesday as strong U.S. housing data and a successful bond issue by Spain added to upbeat business and consumer sentiment in Germany.

Dealers appeared to have overcome their nervousness seen earlier this week following news that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had died, leaving the nuclear-armed rogue nation in a state of uncertainty.

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European Stocks, Euro Rally as ECB Boosts Lending

European stocks and the euro rose further on Wednesday after the ECB moved to boost lending and Spanish borrowing costs dropped, easing tensions over the Eurozone debt crisis, traders said.

The European Central Bank said it had injected a record 489.19 billion euros ($641 billion) into Eurozone banks via its first-ever three-year refinancing operation.

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Iran Preoccupied by Plunging Currency

Iranian officials, lawmakers and media on Wednesday worriedly snapped their focus on to their country's sanctions-hit economy amid a sudden and accelerating plunge in the currency.

The currency, the rial, was trading at 15,800 to the dollar -- its lowest point ever, and an indication of the fragility of the economy as ramped-up Western sanctions bit.

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EU Short on IMF Loans Target as Britain Refuses Aid

The EU is short of a target for loans to the IMF destined for a Eurozone bailout, with Britain leaving its EU partners in the lurch for the second time this month.

Eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the 17 countries that share the single currency pledged 150 billion euros ($195 billion) in bilateral loans for the International Monetary Fund late on Monday. Europe hopes the money can help stabilize the debt-laden euro area

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Syria to Slash Public Spending to Head off Crisis

Syria has decided to slash public sector spending in a bid to head off a crisis for an economy that has taken a beating due to months of unrest and sanctions, media said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Adel Safar has issued an order for the public sector to reduce spending by 25 percent in a move designed at "limiting waste", Al-Baath newspaper reported.

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Australia Warns of 'Sharp' Europe Downturn

Australia's central bank on Tuesday said there was a "non-trivial" possibility of a severe contraction in the Eurozone economy, leaving the door open for further interest rate cuts in 2012.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said downside risks to the global economy from Europe's sovereign debt woes had increased of late "though the timing and magnitude of any effects... remained very difficult to predict".

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