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January 24 2013, 08:09AM

A roundup of news in finance, economics and business from around the world:


WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to suspend the US debt ceiling until May, averting a potential default crisis and buying time for high-stakes budget negotiations.

MADRID - Spain's economy took its steepest dive in more than three years in the final quarter of 2012 as high unemployment and biting austerity measures slashed demand, a Bank of Spain report showed on Wednesday.

LISBON - Portugal has launched its first medium-term debt issue since it received an international bailout in May 2011, making the critical step of returning to the borrowing markets much quicker than expected.

DAVOS - The world's political and business elite are in the snow-covered resort of Davos aiming to instil confidence in the global economy amid tentative signs of recovery.

LONDON - UK Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain will hold a referendum on whether to leave the European Union if his party wins the next election.

DAVOS - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says his country's economy grew by 3.5 per cent in 2012 but that Moscow is aiming for annual output growth of more like five per cent.

MILAN - A derivatives scandal engulfing Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS) has shaken the Italian finance sector and cast a shadow over the government's efforts to save the world's oldest bank.

MEXICO CITY - The world famous Mexican Pacific resort city of Acapulco has repaid the debt it owed a bank and will be able to resume borrowing in the next few days, Mayor Luis Walton said.

BRUSSELS - The European Commission (EC) has imposed a 79-million-euro ($A100.29 million) fine on Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom for agreeing not to compete against each other in the Iberian market.

MOUNT HOLLY, New Jersey - Two New Jersey men have sued Subway, saying the world's biggest fast-food chain has been shorting them on its so-called footlong sandwiches.

NEW YORK - McDonald's Corp eked out a higher profit in the fourth quarter by luring diners with its value menu, but the world's biggest hamburger chain also warned that a key sales figure is expected to drop this month.

STOCKHOLM - Swedish furniture giant Ikea reports an eight per cent rise in full-year net profit.

BERLIN - Business software maker SAP AG says its fourth-quarter net earnings are down eight per cent.

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand dollar firmed slightly on approval of a temporary increase in the US debt ceiling, which came after a mixed session overnight.

LONDON - Global oil prices traded mixed on Wednesday, as some dealers cashed in recent gains, on the eve of the weekly snapshot of crude inventories in top global crude consumer the United States.


SYDNEY - The Australian dollar is higher after weaker-than-expected national consumer price index figures and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its economic forecast for Europe.

SYDNEY - The Australian market looks set to open higher after a positive showing on Wall Street but mixed results in European stocks after British Prime Minister announced a referendum on the country's future within the European Union (EU).

CANBERRA - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expecting a more gradual upturn in global economic growth during 2013 than forecast three months ago.

CANBERRA - The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) global economic update underscores the remarkable resilience of the Australian economy, Treasurer Wayne Swan says.