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Morning business round-up: China cuts US debt holdings

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

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China has reduced its holdings of US debt to their lowest level in a year, newly released figures have shown.

It sold $36.5bn (£23.2bn) of its investments to cut its holding to $1,137bn in August.

Its move came the same month that the US's credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor's.

Also in China, a scientist, Kexue Huang, has admitted to stealing trade secrets from two US firms and sending them to China and Germany.

Mr Huang has been charged with economic espionage for stealing secrets on a pesticide and a new food product being developed.

The case is the latest in a series of similar allegations about trade secrets being handed to Chinese companies.

In Thailand, the country's central bank kept interest rates on hold, despite the recent floods.

Despite calls for rates to be cut to help the country's economy recover from the flood damage, rates were kept at 3.5%.

The Bank of Thailand said it was concerned that the rebuilding work could fuel inflationary pressures.

Greek strike

In St Petersburg, Russia and seven other former Soviet nations signed a free trade deal.

The agreement was announced following talks in St Petersburg. The other signature countries are Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan.

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No details have yet been revealed about what goods will be included.

In Greece, public opposition to the government's spending cuts continues, with a 48-hour general strike taking place.

The walkout has grounded flights, halted most public services, and shut offices and shops.

It comes as the Greek parliament prepares to vote on the latest round of austerity measures, including more tax rises, pay cuts and job losses.

In other European news, a number of banks across Europe have had their offices raided by European Union regulators in an anti-competition investigation.

The European Commission's competition department said it was looking into a possible cartel at the unnamed lenders.

It is investigating whether the banks manipulated the interest rates charged when they lend each other euro loans.

Brewing giant SABMiller has announced it is to take a minority stake in Turkish brewing group Anadolu Efes.

The two companies hope the deal will enable them to boost sales in Russia, other former Soviet states, Turkey and the Middle East.

Under the agreement Efes will transfer a 24% stake in its business to UK-based SAB. No financial details of the deal have been released.

Efes is Turkey's largest brewer, and also makes soft drinks.

Further change in the UK airport industry was announced, as BAA said it would sell Edinburgh Airport.

Its move follows after competition regulators said it had to dispose of one of its three Scottish hubs.

It will remain in ownership of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.

Finally, the latest edition of Business Daily from the BBC World Service hears some tough talk from the Association of German Banks.

Its head, Michael Kemmer says Europe can no longer afford welfare states.

Plus, Andrew Edison from AT&T says the key to growth in Europe is even more new technology. And Jeremy Wagstaff unveils his cunning tricks to combat scammers who try to use technology to bamboozle their victims.

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