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UAE Agrees to Grant Bahrain $2.5 Billion

The UAE on Monday signed an agreement with Bahrain under which it will donate $2.5 billion to its protest-hit neighbor as part of a Gulf aid program to it and Oman, the BNA state news agency said.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed in Manama by the government of Bahrain and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the oil-rich state will release the aid package over a period of 10 years, "$250 million annually," BNA said.

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Jordan Potash Firm in Talks with Israel to Buy Gas

Jordan's Arab Potash Company (APC), one of the world's largest potash producers, is in talks with an Israeli firm to buy gas to power its plants and reduce production costs, the government said on Monday.

"The APC is in contact with its Israeli counterpart through the American oil and gas firm Noble Energy to examine the possibility of importing gas," the ministry of energy said in a statement.

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Germany to Escape Recession and Return to Growth

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, will avoid the recession that has engulfed many of its partners in the region and return to growth in the first quarter of 2013, the Bundesbank said on Monday.

"As it currently looks, a plus in economic output can be expected in the first quarter of this year," the German central bank said in its February monthly report.

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Eurozone Current Account Surplus Narrows

The eurozone's current account surplus narrowed to 13.9 billion euros ($18.5 billion) in December from 15.9 billion euros in November, European Central Bank data showed on Monday.

The current account on the balance of payments, which includes imports and exports in both goods and services plus all other current transfers, is a closely tracked indicator of the ability of a country or area to pay its way in the world.

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Bridgestone Reports Soaring Annual Profit

Tyre maker Bridgestone said Monday its net profit last year soared 67 percent to $1.83 billion as it cemented a recovery from a year earlier when the quake-tsunami hammered Japan's manufacturers.

Bridgestone said it earned 171.61 billion yen in the year to December as sales rose 1.0 percent to 3.04 trillion yen, with the bottom line partly boosted by higher tyre prices.

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Japan Premier Ramps up Pressure on Central Bank

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ramped up pressure on the central bank Monday, signalling he may rein in the institution's independence if it fails to achieve an ambitious inflation target.

Abe -- who swept to power in a landslide election win in December -- warned that failure by the Bank of Japan to meet the two-percent target could open the door to "revising the BoJ law".

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Air Arabia's 2012 Net Profit Surges 55% to $115.8 mn

Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia said Saturday its 2012 net profit soared 55 percent on an annual basis to $115.8 million, as it expanded its network and passenger numbers rose.

Revenues for the Middle East's first and largest low-cost airline stood at 2.9 billion dirhams ($790 million), an increase of 21 percent compared with 2011, it said in a statement.

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EU States Want 'Fair Tax Share' from Big Business

The finance ministers of Britain, France and Germany on Saturday launched a new drive to force big business to pay its fair share of tax and halt the schemes of top firms to keep payments to a minimum.

Britain's George Osborne, France's Pierre Moscovici and Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble said it was time for internationally-coordinated action to clamp down on the practice of shifting profits from the company's home country to pay less tax under another jurisdiction.

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Report: Troika Studies Fallout of Cyprus Bankruptcy

Experts from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are studying the consequences if Cyprus does not receive a bailout, a German newspaper reported on Saturday.

"Experts from the troika are calculating, especially under pressure from Berlin, the financial consequences of a Cyprus bankruptcy," Bild, the most widely read daily in Europe, said without citing a source.

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U.S. Stocks Skip Sideways for Another Week

U.S. markets butted against a stubborn ceiling for another week, ending up Friday where they were a week earlier after five days of jerky but finally inconclusive trade.

The S&P 500 could claim a seventh straight weekly gain -- by adding just 0.1 percent -- but that just underscored the stall of the bull run since December.

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