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Survey: German Consumer Confidence Gets off to Good Start in 2014

Consumer confidence in Germany rose again at the start of the new year, auguring well for Europe's top economy as it goes into 2014, a new poll found on Wednesday.

"German consumer sentiment has started the new year 2014 full of zest," market research company GfK said in a statement.

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Loans to Eurozone Businesses Drop Sharply

Lending to businesses in the debt-mired eurozone contracted sharply in December, data published by the European Central Bank showed on Wednesday.

Private sector loans dropped by 2.3 percent in December in a year-on-year comparison, the ECB said, after already contracting by the same amount in November.

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Shell Sells Stake in Brazil Oil Field for $1bn to Qatar

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that it has sold a large stake in an offshore Brazilian oil field to Qatar for about $1.0 billion.

Shell said it has agreed to offload a 23-percent interest in the Parque das Conchas (BC-10) project offshore Brazil to Qatar Petroleum International. The deal remains subject to regulatory approval in Brazil.

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Oil Near $97 ahead of Inventories, Fed Statement

The price of oil fell Wednesday, dragged down by expectations of rising crude inventories and a further cut in U.S. central bank stimulus.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 14 cents to $97.27 a barrel at 0510 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged 1.8 percent or $1.69 to close at $97.41 a barrel on Tuesday.

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Turkish Central Bank Raises Inflation Outlook

Turkey's central bank, fighting to defend the lira, raised sharply its inflation forecast for 2014 to 6.6 percent from 5.3 percent on Tuesday.

"We have updated our 2014 inflation estimate by 1.3 points" the bank's governor Erdem Basci said in remarks broadcast live.

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Default on $500 mn Chinese Investment Scheme 'Averted'

A looming default on a $500 million Chinese investment product sold by China's largest bank ICBC to hundreds of investors appears to have been averted days ahead of deadline, a document seen by Agence France Presse Tuesday showed.

A default by the "Credit Equals Gold #1 Trust Product" would send a shockwave through the multi-trillion dollar "shadow banking" system in the world's second-largest economy.

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India's Central Bank Unexpectedly Hikes Key Interest Rate

India's central bank hiked its key interest rate by 25 basis points on Tuesday in a surprise move aimed at taming inflation, which remains above the bank's comfort level.

After a meeting in the financial capital Mumbai, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate, at which it lends to commercial banks, would rise to 8.0 percent.

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Reports: Japan and Australia Nearing FTA Deal

Japan and Australia are moving closer to signing a free trade agreement, officials said Tuesday amid reports the deal will be inked within months.

If realised, the deal would cement a relationship worth around $58 billion annually in two-way trade, and bolster ties at a time when many in the region are nervously eyeing the rise of China and its growing economic power.

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German Business Confidence Starts Year with a Boost

German business confidence rose sharply in December, data showed on Monday, with a surprisingly strong boost suggesting a sunny outlook for Europe's biggest economy.

The Ifo economic institute's closely watched business climate index climbed to 110.6 points this month, higher than the 110 points penciled in by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires. In December, it had stood at 109.5 points.

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Turkish Central Bank Calls Emergency Meeting as Lira Falls

The Turkish central bank announced a crisis policy meeting on Tuesday, as the lira plunged further against the dollar and euro.

The announcement came after the lira hit another record low value against the dollar despite heavy central bank intervention in the foreign exchange market last week.

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