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ECB in talks with Italy over buying bundles of bad loans - Treasury

ROME 1/ 4 FRANKFURT, Feb 12- The European Central Bank is in talks with the Italian government about buying bundles of bad loans as part of its asset-purchase programme and accepting them as collateral from banks in return for cash, the Italian Treasury said. The move could give a big boost to a recently approved Italian scheme aimed at helping banks offload some of...
Source: Reuters | By: Giuseppe Fonte and Francesco Canepa
CNBC update: Pope Francis departs Rome  

CNBC's Sue Herera covers the top stories of the day, including the Pope beginning travel to Mexico.
Source: CNBC.com
Top Amazon executive to take 2-year post with Italian prime minister

ROME, Feb 10- A top executive at Amazon.com, Diego Piacentini, is taking a two-year leave of absence to lead Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's digital technology office, the company said on Wednesday. "Come to Italy and we can talk about innovation!" Only some 36 percent of Italian households are covered by so-called next-generation-access networks,...
Source: Reuters
UPDATE 1-World food prices start 2016 at near seven-year low

ROME, Feb 4- World food prices fell to near a seven-year low in January, weighed down by declines for agricultural commodities, particularly sugar, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged...
Source: Reuters | By: Isla Binnie
UPDATE 2-Rouhani invites U.S. firms to invest in changing Iranian economy

DUBAI, Feb 2- Iran has no problem with U.S. companies investing in its economy and creating joint ventures, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, and he called for foreign investment and diversification away from oil. The president said the lifting of sanctions last month under a nuclear deal with world powers would see foreign investment turn Iran into an...
Source: Reuters | By: Sam Wilkin
UPDATE 2-Argentina reaches cash deal with Italian creditors over defaulted debt

BUENOS AIRES/ ROME, Feb 2- Argentina has reached a deal to pay $1.35 billion in cash to a group of Italian creditors who hold unpaid sovereign debt stemming from the South American country's record default in 2002, the investors said on Tuesday. The deal, which is subject to approval in Argentina's Congress, represents a payment of 150 percent on the $900 million...
Source: Reuters | By: Richard Lough and Stefano Bernabei
Why we should worry about Libya...again

A global coalition is meeting to focus on Islamic State's strengthening presence in Libya and how to prevent it seizing more parts of the country.
Source: CNBC.com | By: Holly Ellyatt
CNBC update: Groundhog sees no shadow  

Bill Cosby arrived at a Pennsylvania courthouse where his lawyers will try to get a judge to drop sexual assault charges against him; Secretary of State John Kerry is attending an anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Rome; and groundhog Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, reports CNBC's Sue Herera.
Source: CNBC.com
UPDATE 1-Italy's Meridiana in talks with government, no comment on Qatar Airways

ROME, Feb 2- Italy's Meridiana Fly held talks with the country's development minister on Tuesday about the ailing airline's future, its CEO said after the meeting, but did not comment on speculation Qatar Airways could come to the rescue. I can't say more at this stage, "Meridiana Chief Executive Marco Rigotti said when asked about potential talks with Qatar...
Source: Reuters
Smokers in Italy hit with new fines to protect the young

ROME— Smokers in Italy are now facing fines of up to 500 euros if they light up in a car with a child or pregnant woman— or if they toss a cigarette butt on the street— after new health and environmental laws went into effect Tuesday. Piergiorgio Benvenuti, president of EcoItalia Solidale, said about 11 million cigarettes are smoked every day in Rome, half of them...
Source: The Associated Press