A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 27, 2009 1:51 PM

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

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates _ Debt-burdened Dubai insisted that it took into account market fallout from its appeal to delay paying creditors, but offered no specifics and did little to ease worries that dragged down global markets for a second day.

Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai's Supreme Fiscal Committee, stressed that the call to defer for at least six months at least some of $60 billion owed to creditors by Dubai World, the emirate's chief investment arm, was "carefully planned" and aimed at taking decisive action.

But the announcement appeared to reinforce worries that Dubai's rulers are fueling a crisis of confidence from world markets with their policies of keeping tight control over information on their fiscal standing and deal making. The timing of the announcement worsened the concerns, since it came ahead of a three-day Islamic holiday.

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TOKYO _ Japan prices fell again in October, just as a surging yen threatens to worsen the deflation that is undermining the country's fragile economy.

The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food, retreated at a near-record pace of 2.2 percent from a year earlier, the government said. Prices have now fallen for eight straight months _ a trend that the government highlighted last week for the first time in three years.

The news came amid heightened concern over the Japanese currency, which hit a new 14-year high against the dollar.

A strong yen and deflation represent a perilous combination for the world's second-biggest economy.

The yen weakened after Japan's finance minister Hirohisa Fujii called the yen's surge "a very serious situation" and added that Tokyo will take appropriate measures as needed, even suggesting that Japan may cooperate with the U.S. and Europe to calm foreign exchange markets.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 4.8 percent lower, while South Korea's benchmark plummeted 4.7 percent, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 3.2 percent, Australia's index dropped 2.9 percent and China's main Shanghai stock measure was off 2.4 percent.

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BEIJING _ Chinese leaders pledged to stick to stimulus spending and easy credit to support growth next year, making clear their unease about the stability of China's nascent recovery from the global crisis.

Ending a closely watched annual planning meeting, the Communist Party leadership gave no sign it planned an early exit from the stimulus despite a recent upturn in growth. But it said stimulus efforts will shift emphasis from state-led investment to encouraging more consumer spending and private investment.

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LONDON _ Economic conditions in the 16 countries that use the euro improved further in November amid mounting optimism in the industrial sector.

In its monthly assessment of economic conditions, the European Commission said its main economic sentiment indicator for the eurozone rose for the eighth month running to a 14-month high of 88.8 points, up 2.7 points from the previous month.

For the 27-nation EU as a whole, which includes non-euro members such as Britain and Sweden, the economic sentiment indicator increased 1.9 points to 87.9.

In European markets, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 1 percent, Germany's DAX rose 1.3 percent and the CAC-40 in France ended 1.2 percent.

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GENEVA _ The United States, China and other commercial powers will spearhead a new attempt next week to find ways to revive world trade and drag the global economy out of recession.

The World Trade Organization has called trade chiefs from its 153 members to Geneva for the first ministerial conference in four years, at a time when global exports are falling rapidly and the WTO's long-sought Doha liberalization round is limping into its ninth year.

Instead of sensitive tariff and subsidy negotiations, the conference running Monday through Wednesday will focus on the big picture _ stabilizing and rejuvenating commerce in the face of increased protectionism, unemployment and exporting of jobs.

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MADRID _ Spain unveiled an ambitious reform package aimed at weaning its troubled economy off the construction sector and nudging it toward a more sustainable growth model.

The 10-year plan features everything from tighter supervision of the financial sector _ and forcing listed companies to tell shareholders how much their executives earn _ to measures making it easier for Spaniards to start up small businesses.

Spain, once among Europe's largest creators of jobs and boasting more than a decade of solid GDP growth, is now suffering its worst recession in decades.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe _ Zimbabwe signed a trade deal with neighboring South Africa to help kick-start Zimbabwe's collapsed economy.

The agreement is aimed at unlocking millions of dollars worth of investment by companies in South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse.

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STOCKHOLM _ Sweden's economic activity slumped by an annual 5 percent in the third quarter, mainly due to a larger-than-expected drop in business inventories.

Compared with the second quarter however, Statistics Sweden said the country's gross domestic product grew by 0.2 percent.