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Morning business round-up: Euro heads meet amid crisis

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

Italy's Mario Monti has begun debt talks with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy, their first meeting since he took office.

At the meeting in Strasbourg, they are likely to discuss Italy's economy and whether bonds should be issued by the whole of the eurozone instead of individual countries.

In other debt news, the UK government's implied cost of borrowing dropped below Germany's for the first time in 2.5 years.

If the UK was to borrow for 10 years today, it would pay an interest rate of 2.21%. Germany would pay 2.23%.

The UK's economic growth rate between July and September was confirmed at 0.5%, compared with a 0.1% expansion in the second quarter.

Portugal had its debt rating cut by Fitch to so-called "junk" status, to BB+ from BBB-, and warned it could be cut again.

Separately, German business sentiment unexpectedly rose in November for the first time since June, according to an Ifo survey.

And in further debt news, Egypt's sovereign rating was also cut, from BB- to B+, after several days of violent clashes in Cairo ahead of the parliamentary elections.

In the UK, Arcadia, the owner of Top Shop and BhS, reported a 38% fall in annual profits to £133m and says it expects to close up to 260 stores in the next few years.

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In Asian business news, Chinese internet company Alibaba posted a 12% rise in quarterly profits, but the figure was still below analysts' forecasts.

In Taiwan, shares of smartphone maker HTC fell by 7% - the maximum allowed in one day - after the company cut its growth forecast.

And Japan's Suzuki Motors has initiated arbitration proceedings against Volkswagen in an attempt to buy back its shares from the German carmaker.

Volkswagen bought a 19.9% stake in Suzuki in 2009, but relations between the two have since deteriorated.

The latest edition of Business Daily speaks to former US Deputy Treasury Secretary, Stuart Eizenstat, to ask why the Federal Reserve is calling for the toughest stress tests ever for its banks.

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