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WTO Admits Russia as Member after 18 Years of Talks

Russia secured the final approval Friday to join the World Trade Organization after a record 18 years of trying.

The WTO's 153-members gave their second and final approval for Russia's membership bid, ushering in the last major economy outside the trade club.

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Greeks Fear Bankruptcy as Government Support Slips

An overwhelming majority of Greeks say their country is likely to go bankrupt, a poll found Friday, as support for a new coalition government eroded just over a month after it took office.

Over 65 percent of 2,000 people polled nationwide said Greece would ultimately be unable to break free of a national debt crisis despite a tough recovery plan followed under the supervision of the EU and the IMF for nearly two years.

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Fitch Downgrades Six Global Banks

Ratings firm Fitch downgraded six major global banks Thursday, citing increased challenges in their business and the prospect of financial turmoil ahead.

Fitch lowered the long-term ratings on Bank of America and Goldman Sachs in the United States, British bank Barclays, French bank BNP Paribas, German bank Deutsche Bank and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

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Syria Air to Resume Beirut-Aleppo Flights after a 9-Year Suspension

Syria Air will resume flights between Beirut and Aleppo twice a week starting Dec. 23, nine years after it suspended its operations between the two cities, the company’s representative in Beirut, Rashed al-Attar, said on Friday.

The National News Agency quoted al-Attar as saying that the Beirut-Aleppo line will consolidate economic, trade, tourism and investment ties between Syria and Lebanon.

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European Stocks Open Higher Despite French Recession

Leading European stock markets opened on a firm note on Friday, despite the announcement of a mild recession in France and a warning about banks by ratings agency Fitch.

In London, the FTSE 100 index showed an opening gain of 29.04 points or 0.54 percent to 5,429.89 points, in Frankfurt the DAX index firmed 33.83 points or 0.59 percent to 5,764.45 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 index advanced 11.68 points or 0.39 percent to 3,010.41 points.

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Spain Demands Compensation from EU in Fishing Row

Spain said Thursday it will ask for compensation from the EU after the European Parliament cancelled a deal allowing EU trawlers, mainly from Spain, to fish in Moroccan waters.

"I am going to ask for compensation for the damage to Spain's fishing fleet," said Spain's Farm, Environment and Fisheries Minister Rosa Aguilar, who was in Brussels for talks on fishing.

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World Stocks Mixed Amid Uncertain Economic Picture

Asian stocks fell Thursday as Japanese business confidence and Chinese manufacturing both slipped, but European shares rose as data showing the region's economic output contracted less than anticipated.

Benchmark oil rose to near $96 per barrel after a big slide the day before while the dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.

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Coke Pays $1 Billion for Share of Saudi Drinks Firm Aujan

Coca-Cola said Wednesday it would pay $980 million for a stake in Saudi soft drinks producer Aujan Industries, expanding its footprint the fast-growing Gulf non-alcoholic beverage sector.

Coke will take a 50 percent share of Aujan, which produces juices under the Rani brand and Barbican, one of the leading brands in the non-alcoholic beer market.

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OPEC Picks Iraq to Be its President in 2012

OPEC said on Wednesday that its member countries had chosen Iraq to be its president in 2012, taking over from Iran at the head of the cartel.

"The conference elected Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, minister of oil of Iraq and head of its delegation, as president of the conference for one year, with effect from 1 January 2012," OPEC said in a communiqué after its latest output meeting.

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Fiat Unveils New Panda, Symbol of Change

Italy's Fiat unveiled its new "Panda made in Pomigliano" on Wednesday at the southern Italian plant where workers last year were forced to accept tougher contracts to save their jobs.

"We answer sceptics, detractors and antagonists with facts," Fiat head Sergio Marchionne told journalists, boasting of a turn-around in productivity at Pomigliano, where production had shuddered to a near stand-still in 2008.

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