A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: May 09, 2011 1:39 PM
A look at economic developments around the globe

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

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LONDON _ European authorities conceded they may need to do more to help Greece with its massive debts more than a year after it was first bailed out, but robustly denied the country wanted to leave the common currency.

Experts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are in Greece to check up on economic reforms promised in return for 110 billion euros ($160 billion) in rescue loans last year. They will also examine whether the current program will be enough to allow Athens to stand on its own feet again when the loans run out in 2013 _ a scenario most investors think unlikely.

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's cut Greece's bond grade further into junk status. It said it was increasingly likely that Greece would be given more time to repay its bailout loans and that it would negotiate a similar deal on bonds held by commercial investors.

S&P said Greece might eventually have to resort to a partial default, reneging on as much as 50 percent of its debt.

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BASEL, Switzerland _ Rich countries like the U.S., Japan and Britain need to move quickly to get their deficits under control, the head of the European Central Bank said.

Debts and deficits of rich countries have risen because of the financial crisis, recessions and bank bailouts. In Europe, Greece, Ireland and Portugal have needed international rescue loans to deal with their debt crises.

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LONDON _ Swooning bank shares contributed to a drop in European stock markets as investors fretted over whether Greece will need a second financial bailout in just over a year.

Though reports from Friday that Greece was considering leaving the euro have been flatly denied, investors still think Greece will need more assistance from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund as it remains unable to tap bond markets.

The resurfacing of Greece's debt woes weighed on stocks in particular and kept the euro under pressure.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent and the CAC-40 in France ended 1.3 percent lower.

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TOKYO _ Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 0.7 percent. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.8 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent.

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LONDON _ British banks gave up the fight against compensating customers who were missold payment protection insurance on mortgages and other loans, and now face a compensation bill estimated at 4.5 billion pounds ($7.4 billion).

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BERLIN _ German exports surged 7.3 during March to their highest value since records started being kept in 1950, rounding off another strong quarter for Europe's biggest economy.

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MUMBAI, India _ India's car sales grew 13.2 percent in April from a year earlier, the slowest expansion in nearly two years. Inflation and higher interest rates discouraged buyers in the world's second fastest-growing major auto market.

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast _ A port official in Ivory Coast said the world's largest cocoa producer is resuming exportation after a months-long political standoff.

Ivory Coast was thrown into political chaos late last year when the president refused to cede power after losing the election. The democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara called for a cocoa ban to step up the pressure on Laurent Gbagbo to leave power. Ouattara has finally taken the oath of office.

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LONDON _ Britain's biggest mortgage lender says average house prices fell 1.4 percent in April to their lowest level since July 2009.

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ISTANBUL _ Speakers at a United Nations forum urged the world's poorest nations to help their vulnerable citizens by pursuing good governance, while some leaders said rich countries had not done enough to help developing regions.

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LONDON _ Banking group HSBC reported a 58 percent jump in first-quarter profit thanks to a drop in provisions for bad loans and a lower tax bill.

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BUCHAREST, Romania _ An IMF official said Romania will shut, restructure or privatize some state-owned energy and transport companies to keep their losses from weighing on public finances.

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SINGAPORE _ Singapore's authoritarian ruling party is under renewed pressure to cut immigration and boost social spending after the opposition made record parliamentary gains by campaigning for fewer foreign workers and higher wages.