A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2011 1:46 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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LONDON _ A modest increase in oil prices pushed European stocks lower, while another jump in Portugal's cost of borrowing reinforced fears that the euro country will eventually seek a financial bailout.

Shifts in oil prices have been having a direct impact on stocks as high energy costs hurt industry and consumer spending.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent and the CAC-40 in Paris was 0.6 percent lower.

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TOKYO _ Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.6 percent after the government said machinery orders rose 4.2 percent in January from the previous month.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 percent while Singapore's benchmark dropped 0.4 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index was virtually unchanged in thin trading ahead of the release of February inflation data on Friday.

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LISBON, Portugal _ Europe's government debt crisis has flared up again in the run-up to a crucial meeting of EU leaders as Portugal had to pay 50 percent more to raise cash in the markets than it had to just six months ago.

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BRUSSELS _ The European Union's banking supervisor hit back at accusations that its upcoming bank stress tests will be more lax than those of last year, which were widely considered a failure. Last summer's stress tests were widely seen as insufficient as several banks that passed needed to be bailed out soon after.

A new round of tests this year _ whose results are due to be published in June _ are central to the EU's efforts to solve the financial crisis that has rattled the continent for more than a year.

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia _ The Saudi billionaire prince with a stake in Citigroup is throwing his weight behind the kingdom's struggling stock market by pumping in more than $130 million through various investments.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says he plans to initially invest more than half a billion riyals, or $133.3 million. He says he's ready to invest another half billion riyals too, calling the economy solid, Saudi companies strong and share prices "very attractive."

The country's stock market fell sharply last week on spreading unrest in the region, but rebounded this week. It's down about 7.7 percent so far this year.

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LONDON _ Police arrested nine people, including two of Britain's wealthiest entrepreneurs, on suspicion of fraud in connection with the 2008 collapse of Iceland's Kaupthing bank during the global financial crisis.

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SHANGHAI _ China's voracious demand for cars eased in February, as surging gasoline prices, the end of government subsidies and a major holiday took a toll on the world's biggest auto market.

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BEIJING _ China's government will spend nearly $200 billion this year to build 10 million low-cost homes amid efforts to spread the benefits of economic growth to the poor and rein in surging housing prices.

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WASHINGTON _ Senators are warning that Congress will not move on a pending free trade agreement with South Korea unless the administration also completes trade deals with Colombia and Panama.

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DUBLIN _ Ireland's new parliament elected soft-spoken Enda Kenny prime minister to lead a coalition government that faces immediate pressure to revive the nation's debt-crippled economy.

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WASHINGTON _ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. will lead efforts for economic cooperation and lifting barriers to free trade in the Asia-Pacific.

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ATHENS, Greece _ Greece's unemployment rate jumped to 14.8 percent in December as painful austerity measures and the financial crisis took a toll. Unemployment stood at 13.9 percent in November and 10.2 percent in December 2009.

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SINGAPORE _ Singapore's economy will slow this year from 2010's record pace as growth in manufacturing, financial services and construction all wane, a central bank survey says.

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast _ Ivory Coast's cocoa board is ordering exporters to resume business or have their remaining stocks seized at the end of the month. Laurent Gbagbo has refused to cede power after being declared the loser of the November presidential election in Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer.

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CANBERRA, Australia _ Australia will soon begin negotiating to sell uranium to the United Arab Emirates on condition that it is only used for peaceful power generation, the government says.

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SKOLKOVO, Russia _ U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is visiting Moscow to further reset ties between the Kremlin and the White House, called on Russia to eradicate endemic corruption and improve its legal system.

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LONDON _ The new chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group moved swiftly to shake up the organization, announcing that the retail division is being restructured and that two members of the board are departing.

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LONDON _ A senior economist at HSBC has warned that Britain could experience riots if food prices continue to soar in line with the cost of crude oil.