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Citigroup to Pay Freddie Mac $395 mln Settlement

U.S. banking giant Citigroup Wednesday announced an agreement to pay Freddie Mac $395 million to settle claims of potential flaws in millions of mortgages it sold Freddie.

Wednesday's settlement covers potential future claims on 3.7 million loans sold to the quasi-public Freddie between 2000 and 2012, a period that includes the housing boom. Freddie has contended that Citi and other banks sold it loans that did not meet key standards.

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Spain to Stick to Austerity Path in 2014 Budget

Spain will stick to its path of austerity in 2014 with the government due to approve its draft budget for the year on Friday, subjecting pensioners and public workers to more cutbacks despite a slowly improving economy.

A new pay freeze for civil servants and a pension reform which will stop indexing payouts to inflation are among the measures which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government is expected to adopt.

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Oil Prices Lower in Asian Trade as Iran Ties Thaw

Oil prices edged lower in Asian trade Thursday after an unexpected surge in U.S. crude stockpiles and fresh signs of warming relations between the West and crude producer Iran, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, was down 36 cents at $102.30 in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for November eased 24 cents to $108.08.

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European Recovery Reawakens Interest in IPOs

The European economic recovery is breathing life into what has long been a moribund market for initial public offerings, according to consultancy firm Ernst & Young.

In its quarterly update, published Wednesday, Ernst & Young said it expects Europe to see more mid-sized and large companies deciding to list their shares on stock exchanges, particularly in the more mature economies of the U.K. and Germany.

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Italy Becomes First EU State to Ratify U.N. Arms Treaty

Italy's parliament on Wednesday ratified the U.N.'s Arms Trade Treaty, which is intended to stop arms supplies to countries at war or that abuse human rights.

The treaty was adopted by the United Nations in April to regulate the $80 billion (59 billion euros) annual trade in conventional arms and stop supplies to states where they could be used for human rights abuses.

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UAE Gives Morocco $100 Million for Clean Energy

Oil-rich United Arab Emirates on Wednesday announced giving $100 million to Morocco in "financial support" to build solar and wind power farms, WAM state news agency said.

The aid is aimed at supporting economic and social development, and supporting the drive to use clean and renewable energy, it said.

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U.S. Senator Talks All Night to Thwart Spending Bill

The Democratic-led Senate was on a path Wednesday to passing a bill to prevent a government shutdown while protecting President Barack Obama's health care law, despite a conservative senator's attempt to block the effort by talking all night and into the morning.

At issue is a temporary spending legislation required to keep the government fully open after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives sent the Senate a version of the bill with a provision that would defund the health care law, trying to seize the opportunity to dismantle one of Obama's signature domestic accomplishments.

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Survey: German Consumer Confidence Higher

Consumer confidence in Germany is rising as economic expectations continue to point upwards in Europe's top economy, a new poll found on Wednesday.

"German consumers expect the economy to gather pace in the coming months, as is seen in the clear upwards trend in economic expectations," market research company GfK said in a statement.

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Airbus Nets 68 A320 Orders in China as Market Grows

Three Chinese companies have ordered a total of 68 A320 aircraft, Airbus announced on Wednesday as air travel takes off in the world's most populous country.

The aircraft-leasing firm BOC Aviation ordered 25 planes, Qingdao Airlines requested 23 planes and Zhejiang Loong Airlines sought 20, the European planemaker said in statements on the sidelines of an air show in Beijing.

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Yemen Hopes Donors will Fulfill Aid Pledges

Yemen hopes that donor countries that meet this week will honor their pledges of $7.8 billion to the country, of which nearly a quarter has been paid, the international cooperation minister said Tuesday.

The country's delegation to a meeting of the "Friends of Yemen," scheduled on the margin of the U.N. General Assembly meeting Wednesday, "will ask for the support of donors for the stage that follows the national dialogue," Mohammed Saadi told Agence France Presse.

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