A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2009 2:41 PM

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

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BEIJING _ China's premier told President Barack Obama that Beijing doesn't seek a trade surplus with the U.S.

China is a huge and lucrative market for American goods and services, but exports more than it imports _ a bone of contention between the two governments.

China's Foreign Ministry says on its Web site that Premier Wen Jiabao told Obama in a meeting that he hopes the two countries can achieve a "leveling of bilateral trade flows."

Wen said China would like Washington to lift restrictions on exports of high-tech items that could have both civilian and military use.

The ministry said he also noted that robust global trade and investment would help overcome the international financial crisis.

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LONDON _ Bank of England policymakers were divided at their Nov. 5 meeting over how to manage the money supply program to boost the British economy, according to minutes of the meeting.

One member of the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee opposed the majority's vote to inject an additional 25 billion pounds ($41 billion) into the economy through the asset purchasing scheme. Another backed a bigger increase.

The purchases aim to increase the amount of money in the economy.

The committee also discussed the possibility of cutting the deposit rate _ the rate paid by the Bank on a portion of commercial banks' deposits _ but took no action.

The bank announced on Nov. 5 that it was raising the total commitment to "quantitative easing" to 200 billion pounds from 175 billion pounds, while leaving the base interest rate at an all-time low of 0.5 percent.

In European trading, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.1 percent, while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent and the CAC-40 in France ended less than a point lower at 3,828.16.

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TOKYO _ Shares in Asia were mixed. Japan and Hong Kong led the region's declines, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock average losing 0.6 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shedding 0.3 percent. Markets in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand also fell. South Korea's key index rose 1.1 percent and Shanghai's benchmark was up 0.6 percent. Shares in Taiwan and Australia were modestly higher as well.

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BRUSSELS _ European Union regulators approved Dutch and Belgian state bailouts for ING and KBC banks after both agreed to reduce operations to compensate for the advantages they receive from government aid. Britain's Lloyds Banking Group PLC also won EU approval for its 17 billion pound ($28.6 billion) government capital injection due to plans to sell off more than 600 retail banking branches

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FRANKFURT _ European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet urged European insurers and pension funds to have sufficient capital on hand, stressing they are "systemically important" to the financial system.

In remarks at the Euro Finance Week in Frankfurt, Trichet warned there are "reasons to be cautious about the durability of the recent recovery of insurers' profitability."

Trichet has long encouraged the eurozone's commercial banks to build their capital reserves as well. He noted insurers play an important role in ensuring market (AP) _ stability.

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TOKYO _ Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group reported a 53 percent jump in fiscal first half profit and disclosed plans to raise up to $11.2 billion as Japan's biggest bank seeks to shore up its balance sheet.

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DUBLIN _ Ireland's debt-saddled top bank, Allied Irish Banks PLC, has bowed to government pressure and cut the salary of its new chief executive to a government-ordered ceiling of euro500,000 ($748,000).