A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2011 12:11 PM
A look at economic developments around the globe

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

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TOKYO _ Japan's government proposed a special $50 billion (4 trillion yen) budget to help finance reconstruction efforts and plans to build 100,000 temporary homes for survivors of last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The twin disasters destroyed roads, ports, farms and homes and crippled a nuclear power plant, which in turn forced tens of thousands of more people to evacuate their houses for at least several months. The government said the damage could cost $309 billion, making it the world's most expensive natural disaster.

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TOKYO _ Japan's Nikkei 225 index, one of a handful of exchanges open in Asia on the Good Friday holiday, closed down less than 1 percent. South Korea's Kospi index ended flat while China's Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.5 percent.

Markets in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore were closed. Markets also were closed in the U.S. and most of Europe.

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ATHENS, Greece _ Greece's prime minister lashed out at credit ratings agencies as borrowing rates in the crisis-hit country were at record levels. The high cost of borrowing threatens plans to return to the bond markets next year.

George Papandreou said the agencies, instead of elected governments, "are seeking to shape our destiny and determine the future of our children."

Major rating agencies have all relegated Greek bond status below investment grade amid the continuing debt crisis. The moves have angered the government which argues the fiscal benefits of its austerity program are being ignored.

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SHANGHAI _ Truck drivers protested for a third day over rising fuel costs and fees, disrupting the flow of goods in China's busiest port city.

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TOKYO _ Toyota's global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from Japan's earthquake and tsunami, won't return to normal until November or December. The slowdown imperils Toyota's spot as the world's top-selling automaker.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia _ Malaysia said it is appointing international experts to investigate whether a refinery being built to process rare earth minerals presents any threat of radioactive pollution. The plant could become the first such facility outside China in years and officials say it may curtail China's monopoly on the global supply of 17 rare earths essential for making high-tech goods.

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