A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2010 3:25 PM
A look at economic developments around the globe

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

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BEIJING _ China's Commerce Ministry said it will limit exports of rare earths _ exotic metals used in high-tech products _ to protect its environment but denied a report shipments will be cut by up to 30 percent next year.

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PARIS _ Workers opposed to a higher retirement age blocked access to airports in Paris and around the country as hooded youths smashed store windows amid clouds of tear gas outside the capital.

Riot police in black body armor forced striking workers away from blocked fuel depots in western France, restoring gasoline to areas where pumps were dry after weeks of protests over the government proposal raising the age to 62 from 60.

Riot officers in the Paris suburb of Nanterre and the southeastern city of Lyon sprayed tear gas but appeared unable to stop the violence.

After months of largely peaceful disruptions, some protests erupted into violence this week over the government's push to raise the retirement age. President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed that his conservative party would pass the reform in a Senate vote expected Thursday.

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LONDON _ Britain outlined the sharpest cuts to public spending since World War II on Wednesday _ slashing benefits and cutting public sector jobs with an austerity plan aimed at clearing record debts that swelled during the global financial crisis.

Treasury chief George Osborne confirmed there would be 81 billion pounds ($128 billion) in spending cuts through 2015, which he claims are necessary along with some tax increases to wipe out a spending deficit of 109 billion pounds ($172 billion).

As many as half a million public sector jobs will be lost, about 18 billion ($28.5 billion) axed from welfare payments and the pension age raised to 66 by 2020, earlier than previously planned.

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LONDON _ European shares rose. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares closed up 0.4 percent, DAX rose 0.5 percent and the CAC-40 in France ended 0.6 percent higher.

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TOKYO _ In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index closed down 1.7 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent, Singapore's benchmark dropped 0.4 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 0.9 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent.

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LONDON _ The Bank of England's rate-setting panel is divided three ways over how to guide the economy amid persistently high inflation and a slow pace of recovery, according to minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee's last meeting.

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DUBLIN _ Prime Minister Brian Cowen says he's failed to persuade Ireland's major opposition leaders to support his plans for reining in a runaway budget deficit over the next four years.

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BRUSSELS _ The European Commission outlined radical measures to deal with banks that run into trouble with the key aim of making shareholders and creditors, not taxpayers, foot the bill.

It proposed that supervisors be allowed to suspend dividends, replace managers or force asset sales to spare governments a "terrible dilemma" of having to decide between letting a bank fail _ at the risk of disrupting the entire financial system _ or let taxpayers bail it out.

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SEOUL, South Korea _ The body mandated by the world's leading countries with reforming the global financial system said it has agreed on a framework of stricter standards and supervision for large banks and other institutions whose failure could cause widespread economic disruption.

The Group of 20 leading rich and emerging nations, which has taken on the role of coordinating economic and financial policies after the crisis, last year tasked the Swiss-based Financial Stability Board with undertaking reforms.

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MOSCOW _ Russia will join the World Trade Organization within the next 12 months after almost two decades of negotiations, President Barack Obama's senior economic adviser said.

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BERLIN _ German companies are increasingly happy with their business situation and more are looking to hire workers as the economy recovers strongly, an industry group said.

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ATHENS, Greece _ Greece's prime minister promised that his government would not impose further wage or pension cuts or hike taxes as a result of an expected upward revision to the budget deficit.

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MOSCOW _ Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov says Moscow is forging ahead with an ambitious, five-year plan to sell off stakes in prized state companies such as oil major Rosneft and banks Sberbank and VTB to raise $60 billion for state coffers.

Shuvalov said 900 companies could be totally or partly privatized under the plan, which also would ensure the government retains controlling stakes in most strategic firms.

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BUCHAREST, Romania _ An International Monetary Fund mission arrived in Romania to review the country's recession-mired economy and begin talks on a possible new loan agreement amid protests against wage cuts and austerity measures.

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