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Minutes: Bank of Japan Members Cast Doubt on Inflation Target

Three of the nine members of the Bank of Japan's policy board have cast doubt on the feasibility of reaching its two-percent inflation target, minutes revealed Monday.

During their January gathering, at which the central bank slashed its inflation outlook, the three pointed to falling oil costs and stagnating prices.

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Athens Hammers out Reforms as Loan Deal Deadline Looms

Greece was putting the final touches to reform proposals due to its European creditors Monday, seeking to balance its commitments under a debt deal with curtailed anti-austerity ambitions.

European finance ministers gave Athens the deadline on Friday to present proposals that would convince its creditors to grant a four-month extension of its debt bailout.

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Iran Parliament Agrees Bill to Tax Religious Groups

Iran's parliament has approved an article in the 2015-2016 draft budget to tax religious foundations and army-linked firms that could generate trillions of dollars.

The vote, reported by the state news agency IRNA, could help boost state coffers in the Islamic republic which has long depended on revenues from oil.

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Greek PM: EU Deal Ends Austerity but Real Difficulties Ahead

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Saturday that a hard-fought deal with European creditors ends austerity, but the "real difficulties" lie ahead. 

"We achieved much, but we have a long and difficult road ahead," Tsipras said in a nationally televised address hours after the deal was announced.

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Moody's Downgrades Russia Debt to 'Junk' Level

Moody's cut Russia's debt rating by one notch into 'junk' territory Friday, saying the Ukraine crisis and the fall in oil prices and the ruble will further undermine Russia's economy.

Just over one month since its last downgrade of Moscow's credit rating, Moody's said Russia "is expected to experience a deep recession in 2015 and a continued contraction in 2016.

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Euro Rises on Tentative Greece Bailout Deal

The euro was higher against the dollar Friday as the eurozone conditionally gave Greece a four-month debt bailout extension, easing worries over its future in the eurozone.

Finance ministers of the 19 eurozone countries agreed the draft deal in Brussels, on condition that Greece submits  a list of reform proposals by Monday to its bailout creditors -- the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- for review.

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Greece in Tough Climbdown on Radical Debt Promises

Greece's radical left government was at pains Saturday to put a positive face on an EU compromise deal that is sharply at odds with its anti-austerity ambitions.

At a last-ditch meeting on Friday, Europe gave Athens some breathing room to present alternative reforms in a bid to save its crucial financial lifeline.

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Shipping Firms, Dockers Union Reach Tentative Deal on U.S. Ports

U.S. West Coast dockworkers and port operators have reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract, officials said late Friday, averting a shutdown that would have hit about half the country's trade.

The tentative five-year agreement, details of which were not immediately available, should free up operations at the ports, with business "restored to full capacity" beginning Saturday evening, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told a conference call.

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Eurozone Agrees Greece Loan Extension

Greece will prioritize EU-acceptable reforms, a government source said Friday after eurozone finance ministers granted Athens a four-month loan extension.

"The new Greek government will present its batch of reforms for the next intermediate phase, giving priority to those that constitute common ground such as combating tax evasion, corruption, restructuring public administration and dealing with the humanitarian crisis," the source said.

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U.S., Cuba Companies Strike Phone Service Deal

IDT Corporation, the largest U.S.-based provider of international long distance calling, has reached an agreement with Cuba's ETECSA telecom company to provide phone service between the two countries as they normalize relations.

The Cuban company, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., said in a statement Friday that the deal enables "the reestablishment of direct communication between the United States and Cuba."

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