A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: May 12, 2011 1:02 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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BERLIN _ Germany has signaled it could back more help for struggling Greece, the clearest official admission yet that the international bailout and austerity plan agreed to last year to restore confidence in the country is failing.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in parliament that his government could back more aid if Greece continues to find it impossible to raise funds by selling bonds.

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LONDON _ Stocks fell as investors worried about the state of the global economy and whether Greece's debt crisis will hurt the rest of Europe's financial sector.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.5 percent while Germany's DAX fell 0.7 percent. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.9 percent lower.

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TOKYO _ Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index sank 1.5 percent. South Korea's Kospi slid 2 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.9 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was off 1.8 percent.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.4 percent to 2,844.08, and the Shenzhen Composite Index of China's smaller, second exchange fell 1.4 percent to 1,194.88.

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BEIJING _ China ordered most of its banks to increase the amount of money they hold in reserves in a new move to curb inflation after higher-than-expected price rises in April.

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LONDON _ British manufacturing rose 0.2 percent in March but a weak performance by the broader industrial sector raised fears that its rebound was running out of steam, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics said output of all production industries, which includes mining, quarrying and oil production, rose by 0.3 percent during March but just 0.2 percent for the whole first quarter.

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BRUSSELS _ A European Union official says that the average interest rate for Portugal's bailout loans will be 5.7 percent _ lower than what Ireland has to pay, but above Greece's rate.

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FRANKFURT, Germany _ The International Monetary Fund is urging Europe to push shaky banks to strengthen their finances as the best way to keep the debt crisis in Greece, Portugal and Ireland from hitting a growing eurozone economy.

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TALLINN, Estonia _ Economic growth in Estonia, the euro area's newest member, powered ahead at a 2.1 percent rate in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, led by strong exports, the nation's statistics agency said.

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CANBERRA, Australia _ Australia and India committed to doubling the value of trade between the two countries within five years to 40 billion Australian dollars ($42 billion) as they kicked off talks on a bilateral free trade deal.

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