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WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Spain's reforms under its financial sector support program are close to being complete and the clean-up of its weakest banks is well advanced.

BERLINP - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, under fire at home over corruption allegations, has won praise from German Chancellor Angela Merkel over his handling of Spain's recession-mired economy.

ATHENS - Greece narrowed its public deficit to 6.6 per cent of output in 2012, meeting targets pledged to EU-IMF creditors, the finance ministry says.

WASHINGTON - Tunisia is nearing agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $US1.78 billion ($A1.72 billion) standby loan to protect the economy from external shocks, the IMF says.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa has raised farm workers' basic salary by more than 50 per cent after violent strikes in the fruit-growing Cape region in the south, the labour minister has announced.

LONDON - Britain's banks will be broken up if they fail to ring-fence retail operations from their investment divisions to avoid any future state bailouts of lenders, finance minister George Osborne has warned.

LONDON - Bonuses at part-nationalised Lloyds will be the lowest of any British bank this year, its chairman has told MPs.

JOHANNESBURG - Strike-scarred AngloAmerican Platinum has reported huge losses, revealing deep damage from a tough 2012, and warned it has to absolutely turn the company around.

ZURICH - The world's biggest watch-making group, Swatch, says its net profit has risen 26 per cent to 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($A1.71 billion), beating market expectations.

SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle says it is buying Acme Packet for $US2.1 billion ($A2.02 billion) in cash, helping the business tech group expand its capacity to deliver voice, video and data over IP networks.

LONDON - British energy company Centrica says it is pulling out of a joint-venture deal to build up to four nuclear power stations in Britain, citing the project's rising costs.

WASHINGTON - Gaming giant Wynn Resorts has called on shareholders to eject Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada from the Wynn board of directors in a special vote scheduled for February 22.

MCLEAN, Virginia - Media group Gannett has reported a 12 per cent decline in its fourth-quarter net income, largely because of restructuring expenses and a tax benefit that boosted the previous year's results.

NEW YORKP - Cruise giant Royal Caribbean lost $US392.8 million ($A378.7 million) in the fourth quarter because of losses associated with its Spanish cruise line, Pullmantur.

ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigeria's state oil firm NNPC has rejected as "misleading" a claim by auditors that it owes the government $US8.3 billion ($A8.00 billion).

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand dollar rose against the euro as European political reports renewed concerns about the region's debt crisis and pushed the common currency down from a two-year high against the greenback.

2/4/2013 #1
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