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Russia's Central Bank under Pressure to Hike Rate as Ruble Plummets

Russia's central bank was under intense pressure Thursday to raise its key rates to stem the ruble's rapid slide and slow rising prices, although the move carries a risk of further strangling the economy.

The bank's board is expected at 1030GMT to publish its monthly monetary policy decision, and analysts are expecting it to hike the rate from the existing 9.5 percent -- in what would be the second increase of the lending rate since the end of October.

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eBay May Slash Thousands of Jobs ahead of PayPal Split

U.S. online retail giant eBay may slash thousands of jobs early next year as it prepares to separate from PayPal to become an independent company, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Some 3,000 jobs -- about 10 percent of the total workforce -- could be affected, sources close to the company told the newspaper.

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Ukraine Mulls Australia Energy to Ease Reliance on Russia

Energy-starved Ukraine Thursday held talks with Australia over the supply of coal and uranium as it looks to ease its reliance on hostile neighbor Russia for gas.

Ukraine this week received its first Russian natural gas shipments since a politically charged price dispute saw Moscow cut off its West-leaning neighbor in June.

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Oil Prices Rebound in Asia

Oil prices rebounded in Asia Thursday after falling sharply to fresh five-year lows in the previous session as OPEC cut its forecast for demand in 2015 and U.S. stockpiles saw a surprise surge, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery rose 44 cents to $61.38 while Brent crude for January was up 40 cents at $64.64 in afternoon trade.

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France Unveils Controversial Plan to Energise Economy

France Wednesday unveiled a controversial package of reforms to energise its crisis-hit economy, including a plan to expand Sunday trading for shops that has sparked outrage in some quarters.

The proposed measures also included a plan to open up traditionally closed-shop sectors of the economy, such as for bailiffs and notaries, who plan to hit the streets in an unusual white-collar protest.

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Russian PM Urges Calm, Patience over Ruble Collapse

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged Russians to be patient Wednesday as the ruble plunges due to falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine, and said the currency was now undervalued.

"It's definitely not necessary to go into hysterics," Medvedev said in a televised interview.

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U.S. Extends Monitoring of Standard Chartered Bank

U.S. authorities will monitor Britain's Standard Chartered bank for another three years, following the large fines paid in 2012 for sanctions violations, the lender said Wednesday.

Standard Chartered said in a statement that it has "agreed to extend the Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) entered into in December 2012 with the U.S. Department of Justice and the New York County District Attorney's Office."

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IATA Expects Record Profit for Airlines as Oil Prices Plunge

Global airline association IATA on Friday raised the sector's profit forecast to a record $19.9 billion for 2014 and $25 billion for 2015, as plunging oil prices drive down costs.

"Lower oil prices and stronger worldwide GDP growth are the main drivers behind the improved profitability," IATA said in a statement.

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Ukraine Receives First Russian Gas since June Cut

Energy-starved Ukraine said on Tuesday it had received the first Russian natural gas shipments since a politically charged price dispute saw Moscow cut off supplies to its Westward-leaning neighbor in June.

The announcement means that the war-torn nation of 45 million people should have enough power to heat homes through the bitter winter months.

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Australian Energy Firms Hit by Falling Oil, Commodity Prices

Shares in Australian energy companies were hammered Tuesday by plunging oil and commodity prices, with BHP hitting a five-year low and Santos at levels not seen for a decade.

Oil and gas companies were among the biggest losers on Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 index as the energy sector shed 4.81 percent. It is down 22.24 percent over the past month.

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