A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2009 1:50 PM

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

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BEIJING _ The slump in China's exports eased last month and several other key indicators showed improvement, fresh evidence that recovery in the world's third-largest economy was firmly on track.

Exports fell 13.8 percent in October, the smallest decrease in 10 months. Imports dropped by 6.4 percent, a slightly faster pace than in September.

Industrial output and retail sales also rose sharply from last year, further signs that sluggish growth might be picking up. The key inflation rate fell 0.5 percent in October.

Asian shares ended mostly higher. While China's Shanghai index fell 0.1 percent after eight days of gains, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.6 percent and South Korea's market added 0.8 percent. Markets in Australia, Taiwan and Singapore also rose. Japan's Nikkei stock average was closed nearly flat.

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TOKYO _ Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he's encouraged by efforts in Japan and China to spur domestic demand instead of relying so heavily on American consumers _ a shift that will contribute to more stable global growth.

The treasury secretary also said welcomed Beijing's commitment to shifting to a "more flexible market-oriented exchange rate" over time.

Geithner said that while the global economy is growing, it's too soon to remove government measures to support growth. The U.S. employment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October, and Federal Reserve officials warned Tuesday that the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring.

Geithner also said he believes a strong dollar is good for the U.S. economy, and Washington was committed to bringing down its budget deficit.

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SINGAPORE _ Stubbornly high joblessness threatens to trigger loan defaults and depress consumption next year, hobbling a U.S. economy struggling to rebound from recession, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

He warned that the U.S. unemployment rate, which jumped to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in October, will likely remain elevated in 2010.

"You're going to have problems with delinquencies of credit card loans, consumer loans, people won't be able to pay their mortgages," Zoellick told reporters in Singapore. "Some banks are going to continue to be troubled by bad loans."

Government stimulus spending will likely fuel economic growth through the middle of next year, Zoellick said. After that, consumer spending and business investment must take the baton to boost expansion, he said.

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LONDON _ The Bank of England raised its forecasts for economic growth and inflation, but warned that Britain's economic recovery is just beginning and that its strength remains "highly uncertain."

Bank Governor Mervyn King said the bank's moves to slash interest rates and pump billions of pounds into the economy, increased spending by the government and the depreciation of the British pound were likely to drive a recovery.

In its quarterly inflation report, the bank predicted that the economy will return to growth by the beginning of next year, and expand by about 3.75 percent by the end of 2011 _ faster than it had projected in August.

Separately, the Office for National Statistics said unemployment in the United Kingdom eased to 7.8 percent in the three months through September, down from 7.9 percent in the April-June period as the number of part-time workers swelled.

Stocks rose in European trading. Germany's DAX closed up 1 percent, while France's CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent and the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.7 percent to 5,266.75, just shy of its best finish this year.

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TOKYO _ Japan's core machinery orders, a closely watched indicator of corporate capital spending, jumped 10.5 percent in September, outperforming forecasts and rising for the second month in a row.

The data show that companies are gradually becoming more willing to spend as the global economy recovers. The Cabinet Office said orders received by 280 core manufacturers it polls totaled 738 billion yen ($8.24 billion) for the month versus 668.1 billion yen in August.

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TAIPEI, Taiwan _ Taiwan has banned foreign investors from placing money in certain bank accounts, the latest move by developing countries to slow an influx of international money created by massive government stimulus measures around the world.

Tuesday's measures from Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission come after the island's central bank warned against the tide of foreign funds flowing into the country. The bank said the amount of money invested by foreigners _ about 500 billion New Taiwan dollars ($15.5 billion) _ was five times the acceptable level.

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SINGAPORE _ Asia-Pacific ministers warned that signs of recovery in the global economy are merely a respite, and future growth hinges on freer trade and improved social safety nets in Asia.

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BRUSSELS _ The European Union warned that eurozone governments who make no effort to curb debt and deficit to agreed limits are posing a risk to the wider 16-nation currency area.

EU Economy Commissioner Joaquin Almunia singled out Greece's problems with public finances, saying they were a "question of common concern" for the whole eurozone. Meanwhile, the EU set deadlines for when 14 nations should aim to meet a deficit limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product. EU nations must jointly agree to these timetables.

Governments have spent billions of euros to rescue banks and lift their economies out of the worst downturn since World War II. As a result, most euro nations are flouting strict EU budget rules designed to coordinate their economies and keep their currency stable.

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MILAN _ Unicredit Group, Italy's largest bank, reported a 26 percent drop in third-quarter profit due to increased provisions for bad debt and lower revenue.

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BERLIN _ Nationalized German lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG reported another net loss for the third quarter as fallout from the financial crisis and loan-loss provisions continued to weigh on earnings.

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AMSTERDAM _ ING Groep NV, the bailed-out Dutch financial services company, reported a profit in the third quarter, ending a year of heavy losses, as financial market conditions recovered.