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Survey: Japan Business Confidence Hits More than Five-Year High

Japanese business confidence has soared to a more than five-year high, the Bank of Japan said Tuesday, a result likely to be the tipping point for premier Shinzo Abe's decision on hiking sales taxes.

The central bank's quarterly Tankan survey surged to its strongest level since December 2007, with a reading of "plus 12" among major manufacturers from "plus 4" in its last survey.

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Obama Addresses Troops on Shutdown Impact

U.S. President Barack Obama told U.S. troops in a video message early Tuesday that they would still get paid on time, despite a government shutdown.

Obama earlier signed emergency legislation ensuring that wages would continue for service members, despite much of the government shutting down after Congress failed to defuse a huge federal funding row.

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Oil Prices Slip as U.S. Slides into Government Shutdown

Oil prices eased in Asian trade Tuesday as the U.S. government began shutting down for the first time in 17 years following a gridlock in Congress over a new budget.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, fell 30 cents to $102.03 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for November dipped 60 cents to $107.77.

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Obama Says Not Resigned to Government Shutdown

U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday he was not giving up hope for a deal to avert a shutdown of the federal government in a matter of hours.

"I am not at all resigned" to a shutdown, Obama told reporters when asked about it.

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Syria War Costs Tourism Industry $1.5 Billion

Syria's tourism industry has lost 300 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) in revenues since the country's brutal conflict broke out in March 2011, Tourism Minister Bishr Riad Yaziji told Agence France Presse on Monday.

"The tourism industry has lost some 300 billion Syrian pounds in direct and indirect losses," Yaziji said.

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Eurozone Inflation Falls Sharply to 1.1%: Eurostat

Annual inflation in the 17-nation eurozone fell sharply to 1.1 percent in September after a 1.3 percent drop in August, according to a first estimate on Monday by the Eurostat data agency.

A strong drop in energy prices, which decreased 0.9 percent after 0.3 percent in August, largely contributed to the new fall in inflation, which a year ago stood at 2.6 percent.

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Troika Announces Pause in Aid Discussions with Greece

Greece's international creditors announced Sunday a pause in their discussion with Athens over the release of rescue loans.

Teams from the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank have been in the Greek capital since September 17 for a fresh audit of the country's finances.

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Do or Die as U.S, Congress Face Government Shutdown

Lawmakers have one final day to try to prevent the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years, but a deal appeared remote Monday as congressional leaders showed little intent to compromise.

With Congress going into crunch sessions ahead of an 11:59 pm (0359 GMT Tuesday) deadline, a House Republican leader offered a glimmer of hope when he hinted that his party could offer a new plan that might pass muster in the Democratic-held Senate.

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Australia Central Bank Subsidiary in Saddam Link

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Monday admitted staff from a subsidiary visited Iraq at the height of U.N. sanctions after it was accused of attempting to strike an illegal deal with Saddam Hussein.

A joint investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media said secret files showed officials from the central bank's scandal-hit Note Printing Australia (NPA) went to Iraq to discuss a contract to turn the country's paper currency into polymer notes.

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China Launches Free Trade Zone in Shanghai

China launched a free trade zone in its commercial hub Shanghai on Sunday, state-media reported, with the project seen as a testing ground for much-needed reforms in the world's second largest economy.

The zone, which covers 29 square kilometers (11 square miles), "started operating Sunday", the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that it was "a test bed for the Chinese leadership's drive of deepening market-oriented reforms and boosting economic vigor".

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