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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia is set to impose at the weekend a carbon tax of A$23 a tonne ($24.60) on its 500 top polluting companies, newspaper reports said, in a move aimed at soothing wary voters and which analysts said should not roil financial markets.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's minority Labor government would announce on Sunday a price lower than one demanded by Greens Party backers, and cut the number of companies hit by the carbon tax from 1,000 to about 500, The West Australian and Fairfax newspapers said, without naming sources.

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