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Mideast Markets Tumble After U.S. Credit Downgrade

Stocks are tumbling across the Middle East as most of the region's markets open for their first day of business following a historic downgrade of the United States' credit rating.

The main market index in the regional financial hub Dubai led the declines Sunday, plunging over 5 percent before rebounding slightly to a 4.4 percent drop by midday local time. Other Gulf markets also opened sharply lower.

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Swiss Consumers Ask: Why Shop in Switzerland?

Swiss officials and businesses may be fretting about the franc's rise against other currencies, but one group of people are clearly loving it: Swiss consumers.

A mere 300 metres across the border in the little French town of Ferney-Voltaire, the first sign of the franc's rise against the euro can be found at the Carrefour supermarket's parking lot, where six out of 10 cars bear Swiss licence plates.

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Nepal's Himalayan Tea Growers Turn a New Leaf

After decades spent in the shadow of their neighbours across the border in Darjeeling, Nepalese tea growers are finally laying out their own stalls in the lucrative global market for premium leaves.

Grown at high altitude in lush, emerald gardens among the foothills of the Himalayas, "orthodox" Nepalese teas are now finding their way onto the books of speciality buyers from Europe and the United States.

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Tel Aviv Exchange Halts trade After 6% Fall

Trading on Israel's Tel Aviv stock exchange was temporarily halted on Sunday after share prices fell six percent at the open on news of a U.S. credit rating downgrade, public radio reported.

Trading opened as normal on Sunday, the first day of Israel's working week, but mandatory suspensions went into effect minutes into the session as the stock exchange plunged.

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Saudi Stocks Shed 5.46% over U.S., Europe Woes

Shares shed 5.46 percent on Saturday in the first day of trading in oil-rich Saudi Arabia after the Muslim weekend, as investors reacted to the historic U.S. credit downgrading and European debt woes.

The Tadawul All-Shares Index closed 5.46 percent down, at 6,073.44 points as all shares tumbled a day after Standard & Poor's cut the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history over its massive fiscal deficit and debt load.

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Italy to Balance Budget Amid Financial Crisis

Italy pledged on Friday to work swiftly for a constitutional amendment requiring the government to balance its budget, as Rome feverishly tried to assure domestic and foreign investors its finances are sound and calm nervous markets in Europe.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi told a hastily convened evening news conference the government will "speed up measures" in its budget law approved last month by Parliament, "with the possibility of reaching a balanced budget by 2013 instead of 2014" as first planned.

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Bank Boss Says Invest in Africa to Boost World Economy

With an ailing U.S. economy, European debt battles and Japan rebuilding after a crisis, investors should be looking south -- to Africa, the head of the African Development Bank said.

Investing in the continent at a time when developed countries' economies are struggling would boost the world economy, Donald Kaberuka told Agence France Presse in an interview in Washington this week.

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French Minister Says Country Has 'Total Confidence' in U.S. Economy

France has "total confidence" in the solidity of the U.S. economy, Economy Minister Francois Baroin told Agence France Presse on Saturday, the first European minister to react to the U.S. rating downgrade.

"France has total confidence in the solidity and the fundamentals of the U.S. economy, and the American government's determination to implement the plan (to reduce the deficit) approved by Congress this week," he said.

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In Abu Dhabi, Lingerie Reflects UAE's Retail Pull

It could have picked London or Hong Kong. Instead, the lingerie retailer that styles itself "the original sex symbol" chose the buttoned-down sheikdom of Abu Dhabi for the launch of its first international store.

Frederick's of Hollywood, famed for its curve-cinching corsets and provocative push-up bras, opened up to little fanfare in the Emirati capital last weekend. Another outpost offering the chain's racy lingerie is set to open soon up the road in more freewheeling Dubai.

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Spain Central Bank Presses EU to Act Quickly on Greece

Spain's central bank called Friday on Europe to rapidly implement a Greek bailout, blaming the snowballing eurozone sovereign debt crisis for crimping economic growth.

Spain's faltering economy slowed in the second quarter, the Bank of Spain said in a report, identifying the sovereign debt crisis as the biggest threat to the economy.

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