A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2009 1:26 PM

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

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BEIJING _ President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao promised a determined, joint effort to tackle climate change, nuclear disarmament and other global troubles but emerged from their first full-blown summit with scant progress beyond goodwill.

After two hours of talks and a separate meeting the previous night over dinner, the presidents spoke of moving beyond the divisiveness over human rights, trade and military tensions that have bedeviled relations in past decades.

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BEIJING _ The chief of the International Monetary Fund said Beijing should let its currency rise as a stronger yuan would help China's development and ease global imbalances.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn's comments came as President Barack Obama was visiting Beijing amid strains over trade and China's currency. Washington says the weak renminbi, as the currency is also known, gives Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage, adding to the U.S. trade deficit.

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LONDON _ British banking executives warned excessive reform of the sector by governments and regulators _ including a crackdown on bankers' bonuses _ would be damaging to economic recovery.

The bankers also cautioned that the British government's plans to toughen rules could cripple London's position as a leading financial center.

A day before the British government is due to announce new banking laws, which will allow financial watchdogs to cancel pay packages that reward undue risk-taking, HSBC Holding PLC Chairman Stephen Green stressed that strong, profitable banks had a clear role to play in supporting future growth.

In European trading, the FTSE 100 benchmark of leading British shares closed down 0.7 percent, while Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent and the CAC-40 in France was 0.9 percent lower.

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TOKYO _ Asian stocks were mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average lost 0.6 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent, South Korea's Kospi retreated 0.4 percent, Australia's benchmark faded 0.5 percent and Singapore's market dropped 0.6 percent. China's Shanghai index bucked the trend on optimism about the country's economic recovery, gaining 0.2 percent to a 14-week high of 3,282.89.

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WASHINGTON _ Foreign demand for long-term U.S. financial assets rose in September as China and other countries boosted their holdings of Treasury securities.

Continued strong foreign demand for U.S. debt is critical to financing America's soaring budget deficits and keeping American interest rates low enough to support a recovery from the recession.

The Treasury Department said foreigners purchased $40.7 billion more in assets than they sold in September, the biggest jump since June.

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, boosted its holdings by $1.8 billion to $798.9 billion in September.

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BRUSSELS _ The 16 countries that use the euro brushed aside the impact of a rising currency and posted an unexpected trade surplus in September due to a sharp rebound in exports.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said eurozone seasonally-adjusted exports jumped by 5.5 percent in September from the previous month. That contributed to the euro3.7 billion ($5.5 billion) trade surplus recorded in September. Analysts were expecting a deficit of euro2 billion.

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LONDON _ British consumer price inflation rose to 1.5 percent in October, due largely to a more moderate fall in fuel prices compared to last year.

The rise from a 1.1 percent rate in September was not a surprise to most analysts, and was not caused by stronger consumer demand as much as base effects from last year.

The Office for National Statistics said fuel prices were the main driver.

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MOSCOW _ Russia's industrial production fell 11.2 percent in October from a year ago, according to the Federal Statistics Service. The industrial sector also rose 0.8 percent from September.

Momentum slowed from September, when output fell 9.5 percent from a year ago but grew 5.1 percent from month to month.

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PARIS _ Gross domestic product, the traditional way of measuring economic growth, has won out over a new happiness index in France.

The head of France's statistics office dashed hopes that a report commissioned by President Nicolas Sarkozy could lead to a new, less profit-focused measure of economic growth.

Insee chief Jean-Philippe Cotis said he has no plans to stop monitoring GDP, and although his agency plans new quality of life studies, it was too early to say how his statistical toolbox should be adapted to take that into account.

Shortly after his election in 2007, Sarkozy commissioned Nobel prize-winning U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz to give new thought to the way GDP is calculated so that happiness and other quality of life measurements can be included in measurements of French economic growth.

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BERN, Switzerland _ American clients who each hid more than 1 million Swiss francs in undeclared bank accounts with UBS AG between 2001 and 2008 could have details turned over to the U.S. government, Swiss officials said.

The Swiss Justice Department unveiled the criteria used to determine which 4,450 UBS customers risk disclosure to U.S. tax authorities as part of a deal to end a major tax evasion investigation against the bank.

The Internal Revenue Service had initially sought the names of some 52,000 American clients at UBS believed to be hiding nearly $15 billion. UBS resisted initially, but then agreed to disclose 4,450 names.

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MEXICO CITY _ Mexico's leaders approved a $244 billion budget for 2010, a slight increase from 2009 despite an economic crisis.