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Zambia Starts New Year with New Look Currency

Zambians on Tuesday woke up to a new year and new bank notes, which lop off three zeros in a bid to address high inflation that made the currency cumbersome to work with.

Zambia's Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda launched the new Kwacha notes assuring the citizens that the move to rebase currency was meant to address previous bouts of depreciation.

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U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Avert 'Fiscal Cliff' Tax Hikes

Coming together in the early hours of 2013, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a last-gasp bill Tuesday to avert huge tax increases and draconian spending cuts making up the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Lawmakers voted 89-9 to approve the measure, which now goes to the House of Representatives where it faces a less certain fate, although the chamber's Republican Speaker John Boehner said he would bring the bill to the floor soon.

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Record 52 Million Tourists Love New York

The famous "I love NY" tourist T-shirts may have to be changed to "All 52 million of us love NY."

That's how many people visited the Big Apple in 2012, setting a new record that broke the previous year's milestone of 50 million.

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Morsi 'Not Afraid' of Falling Egyptian Pound

President Mohamed Morsi has said the fall of the Egyptian pound, which is at an eight-year low against the dollar, does not worry him and expects a return to stability in the coming days, a report said Monday.

The issue "does not worry us and we are not afraid. In a few days things will balance out," Morsi said late Sunday in comments reported by the official MENA.

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Spain Faces 207-bn-euro Headache in 2013

Spain defied the markets by averting a sovereign bailout this year but high interest rates could yet force Madrid to its knees as the nation confronts a 207-billion-euro ($274 billion) financing headache in 2013.

The eurozone's fourth-biggest economy has skirted a rescue so far even after slipping into a recession in mid-2011 that has sent the unemployment rate soaring to 25 percent, the highest in Spain's modern history.

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Lawmakers Still at Odds on Last Day Before Fiscal Cliff

U.S. lawmakers will work on New Year's Eve for the first time in more than 40 years in a last-ditch attempt to save the United States from a fiscal calamity that will result in stiff tax hikes and drastic spending cuts.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has ordered the Senate back into session at 11:00 am (1600 GMT) Monday, the last day before the deadline know as the "fiscal cliff."

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HSBC: China Manufacturing Activity Hits 19-Month High

China's manufacturing activity surged to a 19-month high in December, British bank HSBC said Monday, adding to signs of recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

The year's final purchasing managers' index (PMI) from the lender hit 51.5, up from 50.5 in November when the figure returned to growth after 12 consecutive months of contraction.

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Obama Blames Republicans as Fiscal Cliff Looms

Last minute talks stalled Sunday between top U.S. political leaders aimed at averting a fiscal calamity due to hit within hours, as Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for a lack of progress.

Top Democrats and Republicans groped for a compromise before a punishing package of government spending cuts and tax hikes come into force on January 1 which could roil global markets and send the U.S. economy back into recession.

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PM Qandil: Egypt Wants to Resume Talks on IMF Loan

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said on Sunday that Egypt wants to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund in January on a $4.8-billion loan frozen this month because of political tensions and unrest.

"We have invited (the IMF) to resume talks during January," Qandil told a news conference in Cairo.

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As Clock Ticks, U.S. Lawmakers Seek Fiscal Cliff Solution

With the clock ticking toward a New Year's time bomb of huge tax increases and spending cuts, U.S. lawmakers worked feverishly Saturday to keep America from tumbling off that so-called fiscal cliff.

The stakes in the game of holiday-interrupting brinkmanship are huge. Economists agree the $500 billion in fiscal pain due to kick in as soon as the new year starts will stifle the gathering U.S. economic recovery and send the United States back into recession, spelling bad news for the global economy as well.

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