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(MENAFN - AFP) Picasso masterpiece "Les Femmes d'Alger" went on show for the first time in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of an auction where it is tipped to smash the world record price for a painting.

The 1955 piece depicts women in a harem and is the final work in a 15-painting series which pays homage to the 19th century artist Delacroix, who Picasso admired.

It is billed ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Hunched up in the prow of his canoe, Mahamat simply watches time slip by, like dozens of boatmen in Guite on Lake Chad who no longer dare sail for fear of Boko Haram fighters.

"We're here, but we do nothing. We don't have work any more," the Chadian sailor says in a resigned tone, looking wearily over at a group of men seated on the ground, playing cards.

The ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Oil prices were largely steady Wednesday as marathon talks aimed at preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb went into a nail-biting extension.

Traders meanwhile awaited the latest snapshot of US crude inventories for indications of demand in the world's biggest economy.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May edged up seven cents to stand at $55.18 ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Cash-strapped Greece has garnered a little over 147 million euros ($158 million) via a debt forgiveness scheme designed to bolster the state's near-empty coffers, officials said on Wednesday.

The finance ministry said over 150,000 private individuals and companies had hastened to settle or partially repay debts to the state dating to the 1970s.

The ministry ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) France opposes exclusive talks between Orange and Hong Kong's PCCW group for a 49 percent stake in Dailymotion, preferring a European partner for the French video-sharing platform, the finance ministry indicated Wednesday.

"There cannot be exclusive negotiations," a finance ministry source told AFP, confirming a report in the daily Le Monde.

"All options ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Falling domestic demand weighed on Germany's key mechanical engineering sector in February, the VDMA industry federation said Wednesday.

The manufacture of machine tools is a key driver of German industry and exports.

In February, overall incoming orders fell by 3.0 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, VDMA said in a statement, with export ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) European stock markets rallied Wednesday in a positive start to the second quarter on the back of upbeat manufacturing data in China and the eurozone, dealers said.

In late morning deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies jumped 0.98 percent to 6,839 points and the CAC 40 in Paris won 1.45 percent to 5,106.60 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) China's manufacturing activity expanded in March for the first time since December, the government said Wednesday, a bright spot as the world's second-largest economy fights a broad slowdown in growth.

The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) came in at 50.1 last month, up from 49.9 in February and the ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Europe's new banking supervisory chief, Daniele Nouy, suggested Wednesday that banks should limit their exposure to sovereign debt which she said can no longer be regarded as risk-free.

"There's a general problem with how sovereign debt is treated on bank balance sheets," Nouy said in an interview published by the business daily Handelsblatt.

"They're ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Europe's main stock markets weakened at the start of trading on Wednesday, with London's benchmark FTSE 100 index nudging 0.01 percent lower to 6,772.32 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 index dropped 0.53 percent to 11,902.92 points and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.48 percent to 5,009.63 compared with Tuesday's close.

European equities sank Tuesday on mixed eurozone ...

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