A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2009 12:54 PM

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

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LONDON _ European and U.S. stock markets rose after a batch of stronger-than-anticipated U.S. economic data and as trading levels dried up ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Meanwhile, the dollar fell to a fresh 15-month low against the euro after the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated that interest rates will remain at super-low levels for a while yet and said the U.S. currency's decline had been "orderly." In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 40.85 points, or 0.8 percent, at 5,364.81 while Germany's DAX rose 33.71 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,803.02. The CAC-40 in France was 24.54 points, or 0.7 percent, higher at 3,809.16.

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CAIRO _ Dubai's government said it raised $5 billion by selling bonds and would seek a delay from creditors of a state-run conglomerate as the one-time Gulf Arab boomtown looks to juggle $80 billion in debts amassed in part from the splashy projects for which it has become famous. The bond issuance, in the form of conventional and Islamic bonds, was fully subscribed to by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Al Hilal Bank, the Dubai Finance Department said in a statement. Its value was determined by Dubai's "current needs and obligations," said the statement. Both banks are majority controlled by Abu Dhabi's government. In a twin announcement, the emirate also said it was restructuring Dubai World, a state-run conglomerate shouldering roughly $60 billion in debt, had appointed a new restructuring officer and that the company would ask creditors to delay maturity of its debts and those of its real estate arm until at least next May.

BERLIN _ Germany extended until the end of 2010 a program that allows companies to put workers on short work hours in an effort to avoid layoffs _ an arrangement credited with keeping unemployment down over recent months. A new survey, meanwhile, showed that consumer confidence in Europe's biggest economy is declining amid fears of job losses. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet approved a one-year extension of the short-work plan. However, it reduced to 18 months from two years the maximum period over which benefits can be paid. The benefits cover as much as 67 percent of the income that workers lose by being partially idled.

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WARSAW, Poland _ Poland's unemployment rate edged up to 11.1 percent in October from 10.9 percent the previous month, official data showed, suggesting the labor market is still weak despite a stabilization in economic activity. The Central Statistical Office said there were more than 1.74 million people registered as unemployed at the end of October in the country of 38 million. In the years after the fall of communism, Poland struggled with heavy job losses. The unemployment rate peaked at 20.7 percent in February 2003.

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LONDON _ The British economy shrank less than previously estimated in the third quarter, suggesting that the grip of the worst recession in decades is finally easing, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent in the July to September quarter, an improvement on last month's first official reading of 0.4 percent that surprised forecasters anticipating an exit from recession. The small upward revision supports forecasts by the Bank of England and the government that Britain will return to growth in the fourth quarter, potentially giving Prime Minister Gordon Brown a much needed boost as he heads into a general election year.

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LONDON _ The British government has defended a decision by the Bank of England to keep secret for a year the multibillion pound loans made to keep two major U.K. banks from collapse at the height of the financial crisis. Revelations that the central bank loaned the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and HBOS PLC a total of 61.6 billion pounds ($101.8 billion) prompted such a furore _ the widely read Sun newspaper pointed out that the sum was bigger than the annual budget for schools _ that Treasury chief Alistair Darling made an emergency statement on the issue to Parliament. Darling told lawmakers that any deliberate disclosure or leak about the loans _ made in October and November last year, when the financial system froze in panic in the wake of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers _ would have jeopardized the economy's stability.

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SHANGHAI _ Chinese shares rebounded on bargain-hunting as liquidity concerns sparked by a government order to banks to control lending eased. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 66.64 points, or 2.1 percent, to close at 3,290.17 following Tuesday's 3.5 percent tumble. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China's smaller second exchange added 3.3 percent to 1214.24. Shares fell Tuesday after regulators told banks to control credit and meet minimum capital requirements, sparking concern liquidity might be curtailed. But analysts said investors regained confidence on knowledge that China's recovery prospects are still good and there is ample liquidity to buoy share prices.