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Business Highlights

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EU backs banking supervisor, Greece bailout

BRUSSELS (AP) â¿¿ In one whirlwind morning, the European Union nations agreed Thursday to two key measures vital to the financial security of the region. As well as laying the groundwork for a full-fledged banking union, Greece's euro partners approved billions in bailout loans that will prevent the country from going bankrupt.

The measures, approved by European finance ministers, ended weeks of haggling over ways to deal with the three-year financial crisis. Their decisions freed up the 27 EU leaders gathering for their summit Thursday evening to concentrate on solving the region's other economic and financial problems.

A meeting of the 17 finance ministers from the EU countries that use the euro agreed early Thursday that Greece would get a total of ⿬49.1 billion ($64 billion) between now and March, with ⿬34.3 billion due in the coming days. Greece needs the money to stay afloat and avoid a calamitous default.

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FDA review of tobacco products grinds to a halt

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) â¿¿ Talk about a smoke break.

Tobacco companies have introduced almost no new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products in the U.S. in more than 18 months because the federal government has prevented them from doing so, an Associated Press review has found.

It's an unprecedented pause for an industry that historically has introduced dozens of new products annually, and reflects its increasingly uneasy relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which in 2009 began regulating tobacco.

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Dispute raises doubt for China stocks in US market

BEIJING (AP) â¿¿ A mounting dispute between Washington and Beijing over access to records of Chinese companies with U.S.-traded shares might force major corporate names such as oil giant PetroChina and search engine Baidu to withdraw from U.S. stock exchanges.

The dispute highlights the clash between heightened U.S. anti-fraud efforts and official Chinese secrecy despite Beijing's desire to profit from deeper links with the global economy. This month the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Chinese affiliates of five major accounting firms of impeding fraud investigations of nine companies by failing to hand over documents. Separately an American panel that oversees accounting wants to inspect Chinese auditors of U.S.-traded companies.

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