A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: May 27, 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 Friday:

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LONDON _ Stock markets mostly rose as a recovery in commodity shares helped investors look past weak U.S. economic data and worries about Greece's debt troubles.

Sentiment has been dented in recent weeks by fears that the U.S. economy, the world's largest, is running out of steam.

In Europe, traders have also been uneasy of late due to worries Greece may not get its next rescue loan installment, with a top EU official reportedly warning that the IMF may hold back on its part of the bailout.

Sentiment in Greece turned lower late Friday, when political leaders there said they had failed again to agree on a program of new austerity measures.

Most European indexes had already closed higher, but the Athens exchange was down 2 percent.

European shares closed higher. Britain's FTSE 100 ended 1.0 percent higher, Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent and France's CAC-40 gained 0.9 percent.

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TOKYO _ Earlier in Asia, most indexes rose, though Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 0.4 percent lower.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1 percent, South Korea's Kospi finished 0.4 percent higher and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent.

Mainland Chinese shares sank to their lowest level in nearly eight months as investors, succumbing to gloom over the outlook for the latter half of the year, unloaded shares. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent.

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ATHENS, Greece _ Greece's main opposition conservative party rejected a government plea for cross-party agreement on new austerity measures, despite strong pressure from the European Union and investor worries about a default.

EU leaders, frustrated by slow structural reforms in Greece, have demanded agreement between Greece's two largest parties to ensure that a bailout program can run smoothly beyond the next general election, due in 2013.

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TOKYO _ Japan's consumer prices in April rose for the first time in more than two years on a spike in energy and tobacco prices.

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DEAUVILLE, France _ Officials say that rich countries and international lenders are aiming to provide $40 billion in funding for Arab countries trying to establish free democracies.

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TOKYO _ Japanese automakers' global vehicle production plunged in April, especially in Japan where supplier plants were destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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BERLIN _ The annual inflation rate in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, slowed to 2.3 percent in May from 2.4 percent in April.

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LONDON _ French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said nationality shouldn't be a decisive factor in appointing the new chief of the International Monetary Fund, but argued that a sound understanding of Europe was needed.

Lagarde, who has put herself forward as a candidate for the post, told BBC radio that the "country of origin should not be a criteria," in deciding on a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

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FRANKFURT, Germany _ Economic optimism in the countries that use the euro slipped in May. Businesses reported a more pessimistic outlook even though consumers were more upbeat.

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HAVANA _ Cuba announced new measures to spur the island's push into private enterprise, instituting a moratorium on payroll taxes for small business owners and loosening limits on the size of private restaurants.