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(MENAFN - AFP) Global art sales set a fresh record in 2014 driven by acquisitions from new museums, while China maintained its place at the top of the market, data firm Artprice said Thursday.

Works worth $15.2 billion (13.5 billion euros) sold at auction during the year, an increase of 26 percent on 2013, Artprice said in its annual report, produced with China's Artron.

A ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Loans to the private sector in the euro area, a gauge of economic health, fell year-on-year in January, but by less than in December, the European Central Bank said Thursday.

The volume of loans to private businesses and households declined by just 0.1 percent in January compared with the same month in 2014, a lower rate than the drop of 0.5 percent recorded ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Unemployment in Germany fell in February as growth in Europe's biggest economy picks up, official data showed on Thursday.

The number of people registered as unemployed in Germany dropped by a seasonally adjusted 20,000 in February, the Federal Labour Office said, beating analysts' expectations for a much shallower decline of 8,000 this month.

The unemployment ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Spain's economy expanded by 1.4 percent in 2014, after five years of recession or no growth, the country's national statistics agency Ine said Thursday, confirming a provisional figure published in late January.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the eurozone's fourth largest economy rose to 1.06 trillion euros, Ine said in a statement.

Last year also ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Asia-focused British bank Standard Chartered's chief executive will step down in June, the company said on Thursday, following poor results, job cuts and fines for failing to detect possible money-laundering.

"Peter Sands will stand down from the Board and as Group Chief Executive in June 2015," the bank said in a statement, adding that he would be replaced ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Allianz, Europe's largest insurer, said Thursday it achieved "very good results" in 2014 and was cautiously optimistic for the current year, despite a difficult market environment.

"We expect the economic environment to remain challenging in 2015. Our current operating profit outlook for 2015 is 10.4 billion euros ($11.8 billion), plus or minus 400 million ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) The day after her husband was arrested, Elvira Ablyalimova woke up to find her home in Crimea surrounded by snipers while a squad of men combed through her belongings for 10 hours, letting nobody in or out.

Russia's takeover of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine a year ago was hailed by many ethnic-Russian locals, but for Ablyalimova and others from the indigenous ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Ramiz Pasic's only inheritance from his father was two hats, a pair of glasses and horse hair brushes but also the fame Sarajevo's last shoe shiner had amassed over six decades in business.

So when Pasic retired as a worker for a city street cleaning company, he remained loyal to a promise he had made to his celebrated father just months before his death in ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Australia is set to strengthen food labelling laws after a series of hepatitis A infections were linked to frozen berries from China, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday.

Nanna's and Creative Gourmet brand raspberries and mixed berries were recalled after being linked to some 19 hepatitis A cases across the country this month, with poor hygiene or contaminated ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Chinese oil giant Sinopec has denied reports the government plans to merge the firm with another domestic energy behemoth, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the official Xinhua news agency said Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that China is exploring ways to consolidate its oil industry with a merger between the two state-owned companies ...

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