A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2011 3:41 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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TOKYO _ Before disaster struck, Japan's leaders were vowing to counter the prospect of long-term economic decline with a new spirit of engagement with the rest of the world. Freer trade and deeper economic ties could help re-energize an economy stifled by deflation and eclipsed in size by rising rival China and in vision by smaller, more dynamic countries such as neighboring South Korea. Now, as Japan deals with the aftermath of triple calamities, the considerable challenges of remaking the world's third-largest economy have become even bigger and may take a backseat to reconstruction.

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TOKYO _ Japan's factory production and consumer spending both fell the most on record in March as the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters sent the country's halting economic recovery into reverse.

Still, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.6 percent after strong earnings from major companies.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3 percent, South Korea's Kospi was up slightly and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent. Benchmarks in Australia and New Zealand rose, while Singapore's index dropped.

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PARIS _ In later trading, Federal Reserve assurances that the U.S. economic recovery is still on track helped support European markets.

Germany's DAX rose 1 percent, France's CAC-40 gained 0.9 percent while Britain's FTSE 100 edged up less than 0.1 percent.

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TOKYO _ Panasonic Corp., Japan's biggest home appliance maker, will cut about 17,000 jobs worldwide over two years as its losses swell from restructuring costs and damage from the March 11 disasters.

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BEIJING _ The World Bank raised its growth forecast for China and urged the government to tighten monetary policy to avert risks from inflation and its surging real estate market.

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HONG KONG _ Asia will continue to lead global economic growth over the next two years even as it grapples with risks including inflation, turmoil in the Middle East and the effects of Japan's tsunami, the International Monetary Fund says.

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MADRID _ Spain is giving companies three months to put their workers fully on the books under a new bill aimed at eradicating a black economy that accounts for up to 20 percent of the economically ailing country's GDP.

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BERLIN _ Germany's unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March as the strength of Europe's biggest economy encouraged companies to pick up hiring.

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FRANKFURT, Germany _ Germany's Deutsche Bank AG said net profit rose 20 percent in the first quarter to 2.1 billion euros ($3.1 billion) _ matching its best result from before the financial crisis _ as retail banking acquisition Postbank added to earnings.

Germany's largest bank also said it strengthened its finances during the quarter by cutting risky investments and adding to its capital buffer against potential losses. Investors have been concerned about European banks' ability to handle potential losses from the government debt crisis.

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MADRID _ Spain's Banco Santander said its first-quarter net profit fell 5 percent because of loan losses and weaker business in Europe, where the debt crisis has been roiling financial markets.

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TOKYO _ Japan's central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at virtually zero in a bid to support economic growth after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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SHANGHAI _ Bank of China Ltd., one of the country's four major state-owned commercial lenders, said first-quarter profit jumped 28 percent on growth in higher interest and fee income.

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TOKYO _ Japan's government says the nation's unemployment rate was unchanged in March from February at 4.6 percent, excluding those areas struck by last month's earthquake and tsunami.

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MUMBAI, India _ Quarterly profit at India's ICICI Bank surged 44 percent as strong loan growth and higher fee and interest income made up for losses on treasury trading and higher employee costs.

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AMSTERDAM _ Randstad Holding NV, the second largest staffing company in the world, reported a 38 percent rise in first-quarter earnings as companies in important markets such as the U.S., France and Germany all looked to take on temporary staff.

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STOCKHOLM _ Swedish bank Nordea AB said net profit rose by 15 percent in the first quarter amid higher net interest income and lower loan losses.