A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2011 2:05 PM
A look at economic developments around the globe

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

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LONDON _ European stocks made gains in spite of nagging worries over Japan's damaged nuclear reactor and Libya's violent conflict. The euro hit a 15-month high against the dollar on expectations the European Central Bank will hike interest rates this week.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent and the CAC-40 in France was 0.2 percent higher.

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TOKYO _ Earlier in Asia, Japan's battered Nikkei 225 closed down 0.3 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent and in China, investors brushed off the previous day's interest rate increase as the Shanghai Composite Index returned from a holiday to close 1.1 percent higher.

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LISBON, Portugal _ Portugal managed to raise about 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in a Treasury bill sale but paid a high rate for the cash.

It appears inevitable the debt-stressed country will soon need a massive bailout.

The spike in rates suggests market confidence in Portugal's financial future is evaporating as investors bet the country will not be able to manage its debt load on its own.

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LONDON _ British industrial production fell 1.2 percent during February, the largest monthly fall since August 2009 and far worse than analyst expectations for a 0.2 percent increase.

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HONG KONG _ Asia's economic growth will ease to just under 8 percent for the next two years as the region continues a solid recovery, the Asian Development Bank said. But the lender warned that inflation remains one of Asia's biggest challenges, with rising food prices threatening to send more people into poverty.

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WASHINGTON _ A senior administration official says the U.S. and Colombia have reached a deal on a key free trade agreement. The official says the deal will increase U.S. exports to Colombia by more than $1 billion per year and support thousands of American jobs.

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BERLIN _ Industrial orders in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, rose 2.4 percent in February.

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MADRID _ Spain raised its unemployment rate forecast for 2011 to 19.8 percent from 19.5 percent. Finance Minister Elena Salgado said continuing deterioration of the labor market forced the change, adding that the government does not expect the rate to fall until 2012.

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PARIS _ Algeria's former energy minister warned the ongoing political and social turmoil in the Arab world will have "dramatic" implications for energy markets in coming years.

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CAIRO _ Foreign direct investments into Egypt are projected to fall by over 40 percent, the country's investment chief said, in another sobering reminder of how the unrest that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak is battering the economy.

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BERLIN _ Commerzbank AG announced plans to repay 14.3 billion euros ($20.3 billion) in aid from the German government by June. The German bank said it aims to return much of the money it received at the height of the financial crisis with help from a capital increase.