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G20 Finance Chiefs Aim to 'Change Destiny of Global Economy'

Finance chiefs from G20 nations held talks Saturday, confident they can "change the destiny of the global economy" despite rising world political tensions and mounting fears of financial instability.

The meeting in Cairns aims to thrash out a set of policies to achieve the ambitious goal of raising the total GDP of the 20 major world economies by two percent over the next five years, a target they set in Sydney in February.

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U.S. Treasury Chief Urges More Effort to Spur Faster Growth

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday urged greater efforts to spur global growth as the head of the World Bank bemoaned a disappointing year and warned of downside risks ahead.

Lew called for more focus on investment and infrastructure to help create jobs in comments ahead of this weekend's meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in the northern Australian city of Cairns.

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U.S., Australia Welcome 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Banks Progress

The United States and Australia said Friday they were encouraged by progress on rules to reduce the problem of "too-big-to-fail" banks as part of efforts to improve stability after the global financial crisis.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew welcomed the "emerging consensus" on discussions at the international watchdog, the Financial Stability Board, over capital buffers for the world's biggest banks.

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Pound Rises as Scottish Results Favor Union

The British pound jumped as investors bet that Scottish voters would reject independence based on results that cover more than half of Scotland. Japanese stocks rallied as the yen extended losses against the dollar while other Asian benchmarks were subdued for lack of major economic data.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.8 percent to 16,361.77, the highest level since December, as the yen's weakness made exports cheaper for overseas buyers and local stocks more affordable for foreign investors. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.5 percent to 2,057.77 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 24,254.31. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China slipped 0.1 percent to 2,313.56 and Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.3 percent to 5,431.30.

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Bank Borrowing in New ECB Program below Forecasts

The European Central Bank said on Thursday that it had leant 82.6 billion euros to 255 banks under its new lending program aimed at boosting the economy via private-sector loans.

"The program is designed to enhance the functioning of the monetary policy transmission mechanism by supporting bank lending to the real economy," the Frankfurt-based central bank said in a statement.

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Air France Scraps 60pct of Flights as Unions Reject Strike Offer

French flag carrier Air France was forced to scrap around 60 percent of flights Thursday, as unions rejected a fresh offer to end a strike now in its fourth day.

Pilots' union SNPL slapped down as "largely insufficient" an offer from Air France to limit the operations of its low-cost subsidiary Transavia France, whose planned expansion has sparked the strike.

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Oil Prices Down on U.S. Stockpiles Surge, OPEC Reports

Crude prices fell in Asia Thursday following an unexpected surge in U.S. stockpiles and reports that the OPEC oil cartel is unlikely to slash production when it meets in November.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery dipped 63 cents to $93.79 while Brent crude for November eased 62 cents to $98.35 in afternoon trade.

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Sony Shares Plunge 12% on Ballooning Loss Forecast

Sony shares plunged 12 percent in Tokyo on Thursday after the electronics giant warned of a $2.14 billion annual loss, more than four times its earlier forecast, and dealing a blow to its attempts to turn years of torpor.

The firm tumbled to 1,865.5 yen ($17) in the first few minutes of frenzied trading, erasing most of the gains made since the start of the year, in response to Sony's announcement later Wednesday.

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South Sudan Won't Expel Foreign Workers

The government in war-torn South Sudan said Wednesday it will not be expelling any foreign workers, reversing a policy announcement made the previous day that caused a storm of protests from aid agencies and neighboring countries.

According to the United Nations, 1.3 million people have been displaced internally, and many of them are dependent on free food, shelter and healthcare delivered by a network of international aid groups.

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S&P Downgrades Venezuela over Default Risk

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's lowered Venezuela's credit rating Tuesday one notch to CCC+, saying "continued economic deterioration" put it at risk of a debt default in the next two years.

The downgrade puts the struggling South American oil giant deep into "speculative grade" rating territory, a warning to investors that the country faces "at least a one-in-two likelihood of default over the next two years," S&P said.

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