A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2009 1:32 PM

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

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LONDON _ Government-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC reported a quarterly loss of 1.8 billion pounds ($3 billion) despite an improvement in underlying profits and said lending to small- and medium-sized companies increased 5 percent.

Full recovery from its near collapse a year ago will take years, CEO Stephen Hester said.

In European trading, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed 0.3 percent higher while Germany's DAX gained 0.1 percent and the CAC-40 in France fell 0.1 percent.

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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland _ The world's top finance officials sought agreement on ways to secure future global economic growth as the world hesitantly emerges from recession. They also tried to make headway in stalled talks over tackling climate change, with a major global warming summit a month away.

British Treasury chief Alistair Darling, the host of the Group of 20 meeting in Scotland, warned fellow finance ministers from industrial and emerging countries against complacency amid recent signs of recovery in the world economy.

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BEIJING _ China criticized Washington for imposing anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made steel pipes and launched a probe of imported U.S. autos, adding to trade tensions two weeks before President Barack Obama visits Beijing.

The latest moves ratchet up disputes over market access for goods from poultry and tires to Hollywood movies. But Beijing and Washington are confining the conflicts to diplomatic channels, apparently hoping to avert a trade war that could damage wide-ranging cooperation on issues such as the global economic crisis, North Korea and climate change.

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BERLIN _ German industrial orders increased again in September thanks to strong foreign demand, offering another sign that Europe's biggest economy is gaining momentum.

Orders rose 0.9 percent, the Economy Ministry said. It revised upward the monthly rise in August to 2.1 percent from an initial reading of 1.4 percent.

Germany's export-fueled economy returned to modest growth in the second quarter following a deep recession. Preliminary third-quarter figures are due next week and are expected to show further growth.

Separately, the number of German companies filing for bankruptcy protection rose 12.3 percent in August.

Courts registered 2,619 bankruptcy filings for August, the Federal Statistical Office said. Over the first eight months of the year, 21,807 bankruptcies were registered.

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SYDNEY _ Australia's central bank said the country is accelerating faster than expected out of the global downturn thanks partly to demand from China, but warned against becoming too reliant on just a few countries for the recovery.

In its latest quarterly statement on monetary policy, the Reserve Bank of Australia more than tripled this year's growth forecast to 1.75 percent from 0.5 percent it predicted in August, and raised its 2010 forecast to 3.25 percent from 2.25 percent.

The RBA _ which last month became the first central bank of a developed economy to raise interest rates and hiked them again this week _ signaled it would keep winding back a series of cuts that took rates to five-decade lows this year to keep the economy moving.

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TOKYO _ In Asia, stocks rose. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.7 percent, Hong Kong's index added 1.6 percent, South Korea's benchmark rose 1.3 percent and Australia's index jumped nearly 2 percent.

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LONDON _ Company insolvencies in England and Wales fell in the third quarter, although personal defaults on loans continued to rise.

The Insolvency Service said individual insolvencies rose 6 percent from the second quarter to 35,242 in the three months through September and were up a massive 28 percent from a year earlier.

Company liquidations were down 5 percent from the second quarter to a total of 4,716, which was still 15 percent higher than a year earlier.

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TORONTO _ Canada's unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent in October from 8.4 percent a month earlier as the economy shed a net total of 43,200 jobs, the government said.

The decline in jobs follows two months of moderate growth.

Statistics Canada said that the job decline reflects the loss of 60,000 part-time jobs. Full-time employment increased slightly.

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BUCHAREST, Romania _ The International Monetary Fund said it would delay Romania access to a euro1.5 billion ($2.2 billion) bailout loan while the country struggles to set up a new government.

Speaking at the end of a visit to evaluate Romania's efforts to overcome its financial difficulties, IMF official Jeffrey Franks said the IMF could "proceed with the disbursement once the political situation is resolved."

Parliament dismissed the government of Emil Boc last month and lawmakers have this week rejected a government led by finance adviser Lucian Croitoru, nominated by President Traian Basescu.

Basescu on Friday nominated yet another prime minister _ Bucharest district mayor Liviu Negoita _ and said the IMF will return to Romania only after a legitimate government is in place.

The two-year IMF loan is part of a broader $26.4 billion package to which the European Union, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are contributing, among others. The money is made available in quarterly installments subject to the IMF's review of Romania's economy.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico _ Puerto Rico's government eliminated 2,000 civil service jobs, cutting further into the public payroll as the island suffers its deepest economic slump in decades.

The mass layoffs, along with some 12,000 planned for early next year, are casting workers out into an economy starved for jobs. Bankruptcies have soared, many businesses have closed and there is a growing waiting list for public housing.

About one in six people are now out of work on the U.S. island territory of 4 million people.