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February 04 2013, 07:35AM

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


PARIS - French President Francois Hollande has warned the prospects are slim of clinching a deal this week on the European Union's next seven-year budget.

MILAN - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi says that if his coalition wins this month's election, he will give back the money Italians have had to fork out for an unpopular property tax.

GLASGOW - Royal Bank of Scotland will reportedly face criminal charges and a STG500 million ($A765 million) fine for its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal this week.

LONDON - Britain's scandal-hit Barclays bank says finance director Chris Lucas is stepping down.

ROME - About 10 former top officials of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena have been named in a probe into a financial scandal that has shaken the Italian bank to its core, national media reports.

BAGHDAD - Iraq's second largest mobile operator debuted on the Baghdad bourse on Sunday, in the country's first major stock flotation and after pressure from the media regulator for it to be publicly listed.

PARIS - French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici says he believes the euro is possibly too strong, after it surged on foreign exchange markets last week.

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand dollar gained against the greenback and reached a five-and-a-half year high on a trade-weighted basis as improving US news stoked investors' appetite for higher-yielding assets.

NEW YORK - Oil prices finished higher on Friday in New York, buoyed by greater optimism about global growth following encouraging indicators from the US and China.


SYDNEY - The Australian dollar is slightly higher following rallies on US share markets on Friday night.

SYDNEY - The Australian market looks set to open higher following a stellar performance on Wall Street at the end of the week with the Dow finishing above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.

MELBOURNE - The Business Council of Australia says the tapering mining boom meant the federal government had to continue making tough long term economic decisions despite setting an election date.