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New Zealand Inflation Surprises on Downside

New Zealand's inflation rate rose just 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in January-March but the lower than expected figure is unlikely to stop the central bank raising interest rates again, analysts said Wednesday.

Statistics New Zealand said the rise, largely driven by an increase in tobacco tax and surging house prices, put the annual inflation rate at 1.5 percent, well within the central bank's 1.0-3.0 target.

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U.S. Treasury Warns China over Recent Yuan Fall

The U.S. Treasury said Tuesday that China cannot be ruled a manipulator of its currency despite the yuan's sharp slide since January.

But the Treasury warned that the recent fall could "raise particularly serious concerns" if it represents a reversal in Beijing's commitment to a more free-floating yuan.

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Report: Remittance 'Super Tax' Costs Africa $1.8 Billion a Year

Africans are losing $1.8 billion (1.3 billion euros) a year due to high fees levied on funds sent from abroad by relatives, Britain's leading think tank on development said Wednesday.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) found that Africans face some of the highest charges in the world for international transfers, but global leader Western Union insisted that the fees were down to a range of local factors.

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Imperial Tobacco Announces Closure of Factories in Britain, France

Imperial Tobacco on Tuesday announced the closure of factories in Britain and France with the loss of 900 jobs, citing declining sales in Europe, tougher anti-smoking measures and the growth of contraband sales.

The two factories concerned are at Carquefou, near Nantes in western France, where 327 people are employed, and  Nottingham in central England, which has 540 staff.

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Russia Could Be Hit by Zero Growth in 2014 amid Crisis

The Russian economy could be set back to zero growth this year, the finance minister warned on Tuesday amid growing spending on Crimea and capital flight.

Finance minister Anton Siluanov said at a government meeting that Russia's economy faced "the most difficult conditions since the 2008 crisis," Russian news agencies reported.

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RWE Announces Resumption of Gas Deliveries to Ukraine

RWE, Germany's second-biggest power supplier, said on Tuesday it will restart gas deliveries to Ukraine as Russia threatens to cut off the country's supplies.

"RWE -– via its trading and gas midstream arm RWE Supply & Trading –- is the first European supplier to commence gas deliveries to the Ukraine in 2014," the German group said in a statement.

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Italy Names New Heads of Four State Firms

The Italian government named four new directors, including three women, to state-controlled companies Monday and capped executive pay at such firms at 238,000 euros a year.

The shakeup affects some of the country's largest state-controlled companies: oil firm Eni, energy company Enel, industrial giant Finmeccanica and the Italian postal service.

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Australia Green Lights Second Sydney Airport

The Australian government Tuesday gave the go-ahead to a second international airport for Sydney, ending decades of indecision with a move expected to boost the national economy.  

Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that Badgerys Creek, in western Sydney, will be the site of the new airport with planning to start immediately and construction from 2016.

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U.S. Signs $1 bn Loan Guarantee for Ukraine

The United States on Monday signed a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine in support of its economic recovery after weeks of political upheaval and the loss of Crimea to Russia.

It came as pro-Russian insurgents gained more ground in eastern Ukraine, occupying a police station and an administrative building, their latest seizures in a campaign that threatens to break up the ex-Soviet state.

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Eurostat: Eurozone Industrial Output Edges Up in February

Eurozone industrial output edged higher in February, official data showed Monday, in line with recent data showing a very modest economic recovery in the single currency bloc.

The activity of the industrial sector is closed watched in the eurozone where there is deep concern in some countries about the low competitiveness of industry, particularly on export markets.

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