A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Wednesday:

___

BRUSSELS _ Greece saw investors' participation in a massive debt relief deal rise, bringing the country closer to avoiding a default that would plunge it into financial chaos and re-ignite the European debt crisis.

___

LONDON _ Stocks in Europe and the U.S. recouped some recent losses ahead of a crucial bond swap deal that could determine whether Greece ends up defaulting on its mountain of debt.

The French CAC-40 ended 0.9 percent higher, while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent. The FTSE index of leading British shares gained 0.4 percent.

___

TOKYO _ Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 0.9 percent. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.9 percent. Benchmarks in Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia also fell.

In mainland China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7 percent. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China's second, smaller exchange lost 0.5 percent.

___

BERLIN _ German industrial orders unexpectedly dropped 2.7 percent in January compared with the previous month due to an unusually low number of big-ticket orders and a sharp drop in demand from abroad, official data showed.

___

BERLIN _ Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet launched the process of ratifying the new European Union fiscal-discipline pact in Germany, and will now need the opposition's help to secure a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

___

BRUSSELS _ The European Union said that Hungary has more questions to answer about its respect for democratic rights and freedoms before talks can begin on a possible financial assistance package.

___

CANBERRA, Australia _ Australia's Treasurer said his government remains committed to returning the national budget to surplus next fiscal year despite the task becoming more difficult with slower than expected economic growth.

___

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia _ Malaysia's government has sealed a $2.8 billion deal to buy Tanjong Energy Holdings in one of the country's biggest power asset sales.

___

WARSAW, Poland _ The National Bank of Poland says it has left its main interest rate unchanged at 4.5 percent even though inflation remains above target.

___