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Emerging Currencies Boosted as Oil Surge Lifts Confidence

The Malaysian ringgit led a rally in emerging market currencies Thursday as a surge in oil prices injected traders with confidence while minutes from the Federal Reserve suggested it will not hike interest rates for some time.

Crude, which last week flirted with 13-year lows, extended a surge that began Friday as dealers grow hopeful of an easing to the overproduction and supply glut that has hammered the commodity for a year and a half.

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Iran Starts Talks on Oil Output Levels

Iran's oil minister started talks Wednesday with his Iraqi, Venezuelan and Qatari counterparts as investors watched whether Tehran would follow Saudi Arabia and Russia's pact to freeze output.

Iran returned to the global oil market just weeks ago after sanctions on its energy and banking sector were lifted upon implementation of a landmark deal on its nuclear program with world powers.

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Iran Banks Begin Reconnecting to SWIFT Payments System

Iranian banks have started to be reconnected to the international payments system SWIFT, allowing the resumption of foreign transfers after Tehran's nuclear agreement with world powers, officials said Wednesday.

The move follows the lifting of sanctions under the deal last month, and comes after the Central Bank of Iran and SWIFT took the necessary steps to restore access.

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EU Banking Resolution Chief: 'Bad Bank' Deal Could be Option for Several Countries

A state-backed "bad bank" that would take over non-performing loans from a country's banks, as has been agreed for Italy, could also be an option for other countries, the head of Europe's new banking resolution authority said on Wednesday.

"Italy has come up with a constrution for a bad bank that uses a market solution without state aid," the head of the Single Resolution Board, Elke Koenig, told the business daily Handelsblatt in an interview.

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Moody's: Gulf Subsidy Reforms not Enough to Plug Deficit

Fuel subsidy reforms by Gulf states will help reduce pressure on budgets but are not enough to offset deficits resulting from low oil prices, ratings agency Moody's said.

Savings from increased fuel prices in the six Gulf nations will average 0.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) -- around $7 billion -- this year against an estimated deficit of 12.4 percent of GDP, it said.

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Boeing Wins $1.3 bn Buy Commitment from China's Okay Airways

Boeing said Wednesday it has won a commitment from China's Okay Airways to buy 12 aircraft from the 737 family in a deal worth $1.3 billion.

The deal is subject to the approval of the Chinese government and will be posted on Boeing's list of orders once the green light is given, the U.S. aircraft maker said at the Singapore Airshow.

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Oil Prices Recover ahead of Iran-Iraq Talks

Crude prices recovered in Asia Wednesday ahead of a meeting between the Iranian and Iraqi oil ministers following a Saudi Arabia-Russia agreement to freeze output.

At around 0600 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery was 10 cents, or 0.34 percent, higher at $29.14 a barrel.

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EU Unveils Plans to Vet Energy Contracts outside Bloc

The EU unveiled Tuesday plans to vet energy contracts that member states sign with countries outside the bloc as it seeks to cut dependence on Russian gas.

The European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation bloc, proposed changes so it can review such agreements before they are signed to see if they comply with EU rules.

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Iran Says 'Won't Relinquish' Oil Share

Iran intends to maintain its oil market share but said Tuesday "there is room for discussion" on output, announcing talks with Iraq and Venezuela within 24 hours in Tehran.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh's comments avoided a specific reaction to reports that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to freeze production -- on condition that other major oil states do the same.

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Orange Surpasses Profit Targets, Still Eyeing Bouygues

France's telecom giant Orange Tuesday reported a near tripling of net profits in 2015 as it pursues efforts to take over smaller rival Bouygues Telecom.

Net profits came in at 2.65 billion euros ($2.95 billion) despite sales slipping back 0.1 percent to 40.24 billion euros in line with average estimates, financial director Ramon Fernandez said, welcoming a "stabilising of margins."

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