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  • KIEV, Dec 25- Ukraine's parliament gave preliminary approval on Thursday to a law that would simplify tax legislation and impose additional duties on imports, in an effort to raise revenue amid economic crisis. Ukraine's foreign currency reserves have more than halved since the start of the year to a 10- year low, due to gas debt repayments to Russia and efforts...

  • MOSCOW, Dec 25- Russia said on Thursday its currency crisis was over even though its forex reserves have plunged and annual inflation has climbed above 10 percent, adding to the problems facing the government as it fights its worst economic crisis since 1998.. The rouble plunged to all-time lows last week on heavy falls in the price of oil, the backbone of the...

  • *Alinma Bank surges on 2014 dividend news. *Egypt's Palm Hills rises after board member buys. DUBAI, Dec 25- Gulf stock markets rose on Thursday as Saudi Arabia released a 2015 state budget that will keep spending high, reassuring the region that economic growth is unlikely to be hurt much by the plunge of oil prices.

  • Correction: NKorea-Mystery Outage story Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 8:55 AM ET

    LONDON— In a story Dec. 24 about North Korea's Internet outages, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the Falkland Islands are located in the North Atlantic. LONDON— North Korea's microscopic corner of the Internet has had a rough couple of days, suffering seven outages in 48 hours, according to one Web traffic monitor. "A large city block in London or New...

  • Schools seek streamlined distance learning process Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 8:50 AM ET

    CONCORD, N.H.— Southern New Hampshire University has become one of the largest nonprofit providers of online degrees in the country, thanks in part to a staffer dedicated to seeking program approval from other states and to the half a million dollars a year it pays those states. So New Hampshire's recent decision to join an effort to streamline that process came...

  • Saudi to dig into reserves for the 2015 budget Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 8:48 AM ET

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia— Saudi Arabia's Cabinet has endorsed a budget for 2015 that projects a slight increase in spending and a significant drop in revenues due to sliding oil prices, resulting in a $39 billion deficit. The kingdom says it will dig into its reserves to cover the difference between $229.3 billion in projected expenditures and $190.7 billion in...

  • LOS ANGELES, Dec 25- "The Interview," the Sony Pictures film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opened in midnight screenings in a smattering of U.S. cinemas on Christmas Day, drawing moviegoers who said they supported the studio's decision to stand up to efforts to censor the low-budget comedy. Seth Rogen, who co-stars in the film...

  • MOSCOW, Dec 25- Russia's gold and foreign currency reserves dropped below $400 billion for the first time since August 2009 as of Dec. 19, the central bank said on Thursday. The central bank has spent over $80 billion defending the rouble this year, as a sharp slide in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis have driven the Russian currency sharply...

  • DUBAI, Dec 25- Saudi Arabia will lift state spending to a record in its 2015 budget while covering a deficit with its huge fiscal reserves, the government said, providing the first detailed look at how the world's top oil exporter aims to handle an era of cheap oil. But the budget, released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday, suggests authorities are confident of...

  • Russia's Putin scraps New Year's holidays for ministers Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 7:24 AM ET

    MOSCOW— Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday scrapped New Year's holidays for government ministers because of the unfolding economic crisis. Russian company employees throughout the country are entitled to holiday from Jan. 1 to Jan. 12 when Russians celebrate the New Year, the main holiday in Russia, as well as Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7.

  • MOSCOW, Dec 25- Russia said its currency crisis was over on Thursday but warned that inflation is set to climb above 10 percent, adding to the problems facing President Vladimir Putin's government as it fights its worst economic crisis since 1998.. The rouble plunged to all-time lows last week on heavy falls in the price of oil, the backbone of the Russian economy,...

  • MOSCOW, Dec 25- The central bank provided the following figures for its gold and foreign exchange reserves on Thursday:. NOTE- The reserves include monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserve position at the IMF and foreign exchange. For full reserves history click on www.cbr.ru.

  • DUBAI, Dec 25- Saudi Arabia plans to raise government spending 0.6 percent to a record high in its 2015 budget while covering a large deficit due to plunging oil prices with its huge fiscal reserves, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. Some analysts believe Riyadh is content to see oil prices fall as a way to squeeze out competing producers in non- OPEC nations.

  • Snowstorm in Moscow delays over 150 flights Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 5:05 AM ET

    MOSCOW— A massive snowstorm in Moscow on Thursday caused delays to more than 150 flights and brought traffic to a standstill. The snowstorm began early Thursday morning and the Russian Meteorological Office said it expects up to 4 inches of snow to fall in Moscow in a single day. The Yandex traffic monitoring service said the congestion in Moscow reached the...

  • DUBAI, Dec 25- Saudi Arabia plans to raise government spending by 0.6 percent to a record high next year while covering a large budget deficit due to plunging oil prices with its huge fiscal reserves, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. Spending in the kingdom's 2015 state budget is projected at 860 billion riyals, up from 855 billion in the 2014 budget plan-...

  • MOSCOW, Dec 25- An economic aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists on Thursday that annual inflation would reach around 11 percent by the end of the year. "We've already reached 10.4 percent, around 11," Andrei Belousov said, RIA Novosti news agency reported. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday that inflation by the end of the year...

  • RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ECONOMIC AIDE SAYS ESTIMATES INFLATION AT END OF YEAR AT AROUND 11 PCT- RIA.

  • TOKYO/ LOS ANGELES, Dec 25- Sony Corp's Tokyo headquarters is changing its usual arm's-length relationship with its U.S. studio following a massive cyberattack and the controversy over the comedy "The Interview," with the group CEO being consulted on key decisions, company officials said. Officials with direct knowledge of the relationship said Sony Pictures...

  • UPDATE 1-Russian rouble strengthens in thin trade Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 3:35 AM ET

    MOSCOW, Dec 25- Russia's rouble strengthened on Thursday as exporters sold foreign currency in response to government pressure and to meet tax payments, but trading volumes were thin as many Western markets were closed for the Christmas Day holidays. "We think the short-term upside for the rouble is limited," Dmitry Polevoy at ING Bank said in a note, also citing...

  • LONDON— Got a nifty little drone for Christmas? Especially if you are in Britain. Spokesman Gerry Corbett says drone technology has improved as costs have come down, making the devices much more affordable, but that new users have to follow regulations.