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China Inflation Spikes, Factory Output Slows

Chinese inflation hit a 10-month high in February while growth in industrial production and retail sales slowed, official data showed Saturday, complicating policymakers' efforts to boost recovery.

Growth in the world's second-largest economy slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012, though a pick-up in the final three months had raised hopes for a rebound this year.

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U.S. Jobless Rate Falls to 7.7% as Jobs Surge

The U.S. jobs market brightened in February as the unemployment rate tumbled and jobs growth picked up, official data released Friday showed.

The jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent, from 7.9 percent in January, and the U.S. gained a net 236,000 jobs, the Labor Department said.

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Switzerland Refuses to Void Rich Foreigners' Tax Rules

Switzerland's government on Friday rejected calls to axe special rules allowing rich foreigners resident in the country to pay less tax, saying the current system still raised crucial revenue.

In a statement, the government said it had rejected demands by leftwing parties and trade unions on the grounds that existing system generates 668 million Swiss francs (539 million euros, $705 million) in taxes.

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Fitch Downgrades Italy to 'BBB+' with Negative Outlook

The international ratings agency Fitch said Friday it had downgraded Italy's sovereign debt rating by one notch to "BBB+" from "A-" and added that the outlook was negative.

Fitch pointed in particular to "the inconclusive results of the Italian parliamentary elections on 24-25 February" which "make it unlikely that a stable new government can be formed in the next few weeks."

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IMF Chief Says Open to Changes for Irish Bailout Deal

The International Monetary Fund is open to changing the terms of Ireland’s bailout program to help the bailed-out eurozone nation return to long-term bond markets, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said here on Friday.

"We have an open mind about many issues, many of the terms and conditions of the exit strategy and as far as the adjustment to the loans," the managing director of the IMF told reporters at a press conference in the Irish capital.

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Japan Recession Over, Recovery Eyed

Japan eased out of recession in the last quarter of 2012, with modest growth analysts said Friday underpins a strengthening economy, as the government and central bank up their fight against deflation.

The 0.2 percent expansion on an annualized basis in the three months to December will be welcome news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose first few months in office have seen renewed optimism over the world's third largest economy.

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17 of 18 U.S. Banks Pass Stress Tests

All but one of 18 top U.S. banks passed tough stress tests aimed at seeing if the financial industry could weather a new deep crisis, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday.

Government-controlled Ally Financial, the rescued former finance arm of General Motors, was the only bank to fail the test of capital strength.

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Report: Google to Lay off 10% of Motorola Workforce

Google's Motorola Mobility unit will lay off some 1,200 employees, or more than 10 percent of its workforce, in a bid to return to profitability, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The Journal said Motorola employees were informed about the latest cuts -- which come on top of 4,000 layoffs announced last August -- via a company email sent this week.

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Iraq Parliament Approves Budget amid Kurd Boycott

Iraq's parliament approved on Thursday a $119.1 billion (91.6 billion euro) budget for 2013 after weeks of delay, but Kurdish representatives and most members of the main Sunni-backed bloc did not attend, MPs said.

Parliament has struggled to pass even key legislation such as the budget due to political disputes that have deadlocked the body.

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Obama Invites Republican Budget Hawk Ryan to Lunch

President Barack Obama will take his charm offensive with Republicans up a notch on Thursday, having lunch with budget hawk and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at the White House.

Hours after supping with a dozen Republican senators to start a dialogue aimed at reviving a stalled "grand bargain" on the deficit and spending, the president will welcome Ryan, a key player in the House of Representatives.

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