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G7 Promises Robust Aid for Ukraine

The finance ministers of the world's top industrialized countries promised a firm aid package to Ukraine on Sunday, while calling for reform and a central role by the International Monetary Fund.

Earlier, leaders of the countries symbolically billed themselves as the "G7," saying Russia's actions were incompatible with the Group of Eight Nations, which Moscow joined in 1997, and withdrew from preparations for June's G8 summit in Sochi.

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Gazprom Warns Ukraine Over 'Huge' Debt of $1.55 bn

Ukraine owes Russian gas giant Gazprom a "huge" debt of $1.55 bn for unpaid gas and may not be able to keep the discount it currently enjoys for Russian gas imports, the firm said on Saturday.

"We have good relations with Ukraine, the transit is working, but they just need to pay for the gas. The debt is $1.549 billion, it is huge," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

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Govt: China Manufacturing Growth Slows to 8-Month Low

China's manufacturing growth fell to an eight-month low in February, government figures showed on Saturday, reflecting further weakening in the world's second-largest economy but also the effect of a major holiday.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) tumbled to 50.2, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on its website, in the third straight drop from 50.5 in January, 51.0 in December and 51.4 in November.

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U.S. Says Russia Ready to Help Ukraine Economy, Yanukovych Lost All Legitimacy

Russia is ready to help Ukraine as it seeks to stave off economic collapse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday after talking with his Russian counterpart.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated during a Friday phone call "that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point," Kerry told reporters.

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IMF's Lagarde: No Need to Panic over Ukraine Economy

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged calm over Ukraine's economic situation on Friday after the country asked for at least $15 billion in financial aid.

"We do not see anything that is critical, that is worthy of panic at the moment," Lagarde said after talks in Washington on Ukraine with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

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Crisis-Hit Ukraine Slaps 1,000-Euro Limit on Bank Withdrawals

Crisis-hit Ukraine's central bank on Friday announced it was imposing a limit of around a 1,000 euros on daily bank withdrawals as the national currency plunges to record lows.

The bank said it was slapping a limit of 15,000 on withdrawals (1,095 euros, 1,400 dollars). The hryvna has plunged nearly 20 percent to record lows since the start of the year as tensions soared between the new pro-West government in Kiev and old master Moscow following the ousting of the country's pro-Russia president.

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Swiss Launch Criminal Probe against Yanukovych, Freeze Assets

Swiss authorities said Friday they have launched a criminal probe into alleged money laundering by ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and his multi-millionaire son.

The government also announced it was freezing the assets of 20 Ukranian officials, including Yanukovych and his son Olexandr and a number of former ministers in his government.

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Vietnam Restricts Use of Bitcoin

Vietnam has banned its banks from handling Bitcoins, saying the virtual currency is not legal tender in the communist nation.

Bitcoin, invented in the wake of the global financial crisis, is a form of cryptography-based e-money that offers a largely anonymous payment system, but its value is highly volatile.

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Japan Economy Holds Steady as Tax Hike Looms

Japan's recovery is holding steady ahead of a looming sales tax hike, economic indicators showed Friday, though weakness in wages and spending suggest it remains vulnerable to a reversal.

The consumer price index rose 1.3 percent in January and factory production also climbed.

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GDF Suez Takes 'Radical' Charge for Shale Shock in Europe

French gas giant GDF Suez reported a huge net loss for last year, the latest gas provider to reveal the depth of upheaval from the boom of shale energy in North America.

The group, which also distributes electricity, reported a net loss of 9.7 billion euros ($13.24 billion) for 2013 from sales which slipped by 0.8 percent to 81.3 billion euros.

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