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

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BRUSSELS _ Iran was largely cut off from global commerce when the company that handles financial transactions said it was severing ties with many Iranian banks _ part of an international effort to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

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LONDON _ Markets were steady following recent gains that have pushed many U.S. indexes to their highest levels since the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Germany's DAX was up almost 1 percent. The CAC-40 in France was up 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.08 percent lower.

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TOKYO _ In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.2 percent higher.

But mainland Chinese shares fell, a day after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said curbs that have started to cool surging housing prices will remain in place despite complaints they might worsen an economic slowdown. Construction and real estate sales are key drivers of China's growth. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7 percent and the Shenzhen Composite Index shed 0.8 percent.

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ATHENS, Greece _ Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos says he will ensure the country's commitments to international creditors are honored if he is part of the new government after general elections, expected in late April or early May.

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PARIS _ France saw its borrowing costs drop as it raised $13.1 billion through a variety of medium and long-term bond auctions.

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DUBLIN _ Government statisticians say inflation in Ireland has eased to 2.1 percent, though the cost of energy, education and utilities continued to rise.

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BERN, Switzerland _ The Swiss National Bank says it will keep the minimum exchange rate for the euro at 1.20 Swiss francs and interest rates at their current record low.

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SEOUL, South Korea _ A long-stalled free trade deal between South Korea and the United States went into effect about five years after the two countries struck the accord aimed at slashing tariffs and other trade barriers.

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MUMBAI, India _ India's central bank kept its key interest rate on hold, warning that inflation remains a risk despite slowing growth in Asia's third largest economy.

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WARSAW, Poland _ Poland's treasury minister said that the country may start producing shale gas for commercial use in 2014, a move that should help the country limit its reliance on neighboring Russia for a large chunk of its energy needs.

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