A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2011 2:45 PM
A look at economic developments around the globe

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

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VIENNA _ Mideast turmoil, a faltering world economy and divisions on whether to raise crude production promise to make this week's OPEC meeting one of the more volatile in recent history.

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ROME _ Global food prices fell slightly in May, but they will remain "at stubbornly high levels" for months to come, a U.N. agency said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said high and volatile prices can be expected the rest of this year and into 2012, citing a decline in food stockpiles and modest production increases for most of the crops.

Food prices dropped 1 percent in May compared to the previous month, but remain 37 percent above May 2010, according to a price index. The index had hit an all-time high in February, raising fears of a repeat of the food crisis of 2007-2008, when high prices led to violence and political tensions in many parts of the world.

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BRUSSELS _ Retail sales in the 17 euro countries rose by more than anticipated in April despite concerns about the debt crisis and the European Central Bank's first interest rate rise in nearly three years.

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BRUSSELS _ The European Union says plans by the bloc's 27 member states to cut budget deficits and boost their economies over the next year are often too vague and not ambitious enough.

The EU's executive Commission released its first-ever assessment of states' planned budgets and economic reforms, an annual exercise introduced in the aftermath of the financial crisis that has rattled European economies.

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LONDON _ In Europe, Germany's DAX closed 0.3 percent higher, the CAC-40 in France was 0.2 percent higher and the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended up less than 0.1 percent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 0.7 percent, South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.7 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.4 percent while mainland Chinese shares gained 0.6 percent as investors kept on snapping up bargains following a recent sell-off.

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ATHENS, Greece _ European countries must decide how to plug Greece's potential funding gaps next year before the International Monetary Fund can release its next batch of loans, an IMF envoy said, as the struggling country's economy minister came under harsh criticism from party deputies over new planned austerity measures.

Senior representative Bob Traa said EU leaders had "hard nuts to crack" at an EU summit in late June _ agreeing on additional rescue support if needed _ before the IMF would release its part of a euro12 billion ($18 billion) July installment, which is due as part of last year's euro110 billion bailout package.

The initial rescue loan agreement had predicted Greece would be able to borrow in the markets for part of its funding needs next year, but high interest rates mean that is highly unlikely. As a result, it's expected that Greece will need extra help beyond the current package of rescue loans.

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SHANGHAI _ Foreign automakers are seeing mixed sales trends in China as the world's biggest market for new vehicles cools after years of torrid growth.

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BRUSSELS _ Big fruit and vegetable producers Spain, Italy and France angrily demanded compensation for farmers who have been blindsided by huge losses in the E. coli outbreak, forcing the EU farm chief to increase his offer of aid.

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HONG KONG _ Italian fashion house Prada SpA plans to raise up to $2.6 billion in a listing on Hong Kong's stock exchange, according to a person familiar with the deal, joining other foreign companies flocking to cash in on China's rising fortunes.

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LISBON, Portugal _ Authorities in Portugal are trying to expedite bureaucratic procedures so the new center-right government can get to work on tackling the country's ruinous debt crisis.

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MACAU _ Asia will be home to the world's two biggest casino markets as early as this year, with Singapore set to take the No. 2 spot from Las Vegas, a U.S. gambling industry group says.

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NEW DELHI _ India's Finance Minister said the managing director of the International Monetary Fund should be chosen on merit and not nationality as French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde visited New Delhi to canvas for the job.

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LONDON _ What do Britain's major airports, most of its utilities, the top drugstore chain and the maker of the nation's favorite chocolate bar have in common? All are owned by foreign companies. But last year's controversial takeover by Kraft Foods Inc. of 195-year-old Cadbury PLC, maker of the Dairy Milk bar, stirred up nationalist sentiment and prompted the government to consider more protectionist legislation.

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REYKJAVIK, Iceland _ Iceland's former prime minister Geir Haarde is due in court to be formally charged for his role in the nation's banking collapse.

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WASHINGTON _ The U.S. called for China to disclose all its government subsidy programs as Beijing backed down in a trade dispute between the world's two leading economies over clean energy technology.

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LIMA, Peru _ Associates of Peru's new left-leaning president-elect are doing their best to calm investor fears after the stock market plunged on concerns he will be hostile to private enterprise.

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MANILA, Philippines _ Inflation in the Philippines has risen to 4.5 percent as prices of clothes, fuel and utilities went up.

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HAVANA _ Cuba and China signed a series of economic accords that include the expansion of an oil refinery in Cienfuegos.