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Political Crisis Threatens Economic Gains

The political crisis in Lebanon is threatening to derail economic progress after a year that saw 7 percent economic growth, a record number of tourists and bank deposits among the highest in the Middle East.

Lebanon's government collapsed Jan. 12 after Hizbullah and its allies resigned from the Cabinet in a dispute over a U.N. court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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World Trade Chief Upbeat on Doha Deal Prospects

World Trade Organization Chief Pascal Lamy said Saturday that the chances of closing the long-delayed Doha round of talks on a new free trade pact are much better than a year ago.

"We are now in a go period after two years of stop, or at least of very slow progress," Lamy said at a meeting of agriculture ministers in Berlin.

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Report says Toshiba to Build Huge Solar Plant in Bulgaria

Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power will team up with the Japanese government to build one of the world's largest solar power stations in Bulgaria, a report said Friday.

The plant will be built in the eastern city of Yambol by March 2012 at a cost of more than 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion), Japan's Nikkei daily said.

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eBay Earnings Rise on PayPal Performance

Online auction house eBay on Wednesday reported better than expected earnings driven by the success of its online financial transactions service PayPal.

EBay revenue for the quarter ending December 31 was slightly less than $2.5 billion and its net profit was $559.2 million dollars.

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Oil Rises to Near $92 a Barrel in Asia

Oil prices rose to near $92 a barrel Wednesday in Asia, underpinned by a rise in regional stock markets and increases to demand forecasts for this year.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 34 cents at $91.72 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract, which expires this week, fell 16 cents to settle at $91.38 on Tuesday.

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S&P Revises Lebanon Outlook to Stable

Global credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's on Tuesday revised its outlook for Lebanon to stable from positive despite a deepening political crisis in the Mediterranean country.

"The stable outlook reflects our view that while the government's control over the economic and political agenda has been diminished, outbreaks of civil unrest in the country will be avoided," the agency said in a statement.

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Toyota Working on Motors that Reduce Metal Use

Toyota on Tuesday said it is developing a new type of electric motor that would reduce its need for magnets; a move analysts say would help it cut its dependence on rare earth metals and lower costs.

The world's largest seller of hybrid automobiles is reportedly working on a motor based on common and inexpensive induction motors found in appliances such as kitchen mixers that use electromagnets instead of permanent ones.

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Arguments over euro crisis fund heat up

Debate over adding firepower to the euro zone’s debt rescue funds heated up on Monday as Germany clashed with Brussels ahead of a meeting of finance ministers.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has pressed European leaders to take a decision to "reinforce" rescue funds by a February 4 summit but Euro zone paymaster Germany refuses to be rushed into it.

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Salameh Says Central Bank Defending Currency During Crisis

The Central Bank will ensure that the country's currency remains stable and the government stays solvent after the collapse of the cabinet, Governor Riad Salameh said.

"We will be present in the market whenever our intervention is needed," Salameh told Bloomberg in a phone interview. "The central bank can act and will act to maintain stability."

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GFMS say Gold Could Hit Record Highs Above $1,600

Gold could hit record highs above $1,600 per ounce later this year, driven by low interest rates and stubborn concerns over the euro-zone debt crisis, metals consultancy GFMS forecast on Thursday.

"GFMS are expecting that towards the summer prices could start to move materially higher, with gold possibly breaking through $1,500 (per ounce) at that stage," GFMS said in its latest report.

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