A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2009 12:39 PM

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

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BEIJING _ Powered by tax cuts and stimulus spending, China's October auto sales soared 72 percent from a year earlier, outpacing U.S. sales for another month.

Automakers sold a total of 1.2 million cars and trucks, the government-sanctioned China Association of Auto Manufacturers announced.

That was down from September's 1.3 million but well ahead of the 838,000 vehicles sold in the United States in October. China's sales this year rose to 10.9 million vehicles, compared with 8.6 million in the United States, according to Autodata Corp.

Global automakers are looking to China's fast-growing market to drive sales amid slack demand elsewhere. Sales have been spurred by tax cuts and subsidies meant to help nurture China's auto industry and encourage purchases of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Meanwhile, shares rose in Asian trading. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.7 percent and Japan's Nikkei stock average edged up 0.2 percent. Benchmarks in mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand also advanced.

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FRANKFURT _ German exports rose 3.8 percent during September, underscoring the improving outlook for Europe's biggest economy.

Still, exports remained 18.8 percent below the levels of a year earlier, the Federal Statistical Office said. Imports rose 5.8 percent on the month, but were down 16.3 percent on the year.

Stocks rose in European trading. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 1.8 percent, while Germany's DAX rose 2.4 percent and the CAC-40 in France was 2.1 percent higher.

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STOCKHOLM _ Sweden's government upgraded its economic outlook, citing signs of global recovery following the financial crisis.

Sweden's economic output is expected to shrink by 4.9 percent this year and grow by 2 percent in 2010.

In a previous forecast, the Finance Ministry had predicted a 5.2 percent contraction in 2009 and 0.6 percent growth next year.

It also changed its unemployment estimate for 2010, to 10.7 percent instead of 11.4 percent.

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SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt _ China's foreign minister stressed his country's commitment to Africa's development at the end of a China-Africa summit in which Beijing pledged $10 billion in loans and countered criticism it was plundering the continent's resources.

Following on Beijing's promise of new loans and debt forgiveness, Chinese and African officials capped the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation with a document outlining joint priorities in boosting relations and a roadmap for implementing the plan. China also said it would help Africa deal with climate change challenges such as desertification.

The new initiatives, announced Sunday by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and to be implemented over the next three years, build on a previous three-year plan from 2006 in which Beijing pledged $5 billion in loans.

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MOSCOW _ Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia would continue with its economic stimulus program even though the export-dependent economy has shown signs of having emerged from recession.

Putin told a group of foreign investors that he was "cautiously optimistic" about the outlook for Russia's economy but that his government would forge ahead with measures aimed at boosting domestic demand, strengthening the banking system and decreasing the budget deficit.

"It's still too early to say that we've overcome the crisis," he said.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates _ Dubai's ruler strongly emphasized the debt-burdened emirate's close ties to its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, and told critics who question the bonds between the two to "shut up."

The comments appear aimed at dispelling perceptions of a rivalry between the two emirates.

Questions about Dubai's relationship with its richer neighbor have grown louder since the global economic crisis battered the city's core industries and property market, exposing deep financial problems.

The UAE was founded in 1971 when Dubai and Abu Dhabi banded together with five smaller sheikdoms. The Gulf Arab country, an important U.S. ally just across the water from Iran, now ranks as the Arab world's second largest economy after Saudi Arabia.

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ISTANBUL _ Iran's president said capitalist excesses caused the global economic meltdown and are un-Islamic, as leaders at a Muslim forum touted their religion's banking system as a way to revive battered economies.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was among heads of state in Istanbul for a one-day meeting of the Organization of The Islamic Conference, a 57-state bloc of Muslim countries that promotes religious solidarity in economic and other matters.

In an address, Ahmadinejad slammed investments that pay interest, deemed usury by Muslims, and said they had contributed to financial and social problems such as homelessness.

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RIGA, Latvia _ Latvia's economic output shrank by an annual rate of 18.4 percent in the third quarter as one of Europe's most troubled economies struggled to recover from the financial crisis.

Retail sales were down 32 percent and industrial production sagged 17 percent from the same period last year, the national statistics agency said. Consumer prices fell by 0.2 percent from September to October.

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WARSAW, Poland _ Poland will probably adopt the euro in 2014 or 2015, the deputy head of the central bank said.

Poland originally planned to adopt the euro in 2012. However, its weakening currency, the zloty, and the fallout from the global economic crisis forced a delay, even though Poland's economy _ unlike others in the EU _ is still growing.

Poland will probably join a pre-euro currency program, the so-called ERM-II, in about two years' time, said Witold Kozinski, the deputy governor of the National Bank of Poland.