A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2012 3:56 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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MILAN _ Mario Monti is facing his biggest challenge since becoming Italy's prime minister last November, as the country's largest labor union plans a series of strikes against a package of labor reforms.

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LISBON, Portugal _ A strike by Portugal's largest trade union confederation to protest austerity measures and labor reforms disrupted public transport services but had a mostly patchy turnout.

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DUBLIN _ Government statisticians say Ireland returned to recession in 2011 because its economic output fell for two straight quarters.

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LONDON _ Another encouraging set of weekly U.S. jobless claims figures was not enough to turn markets around, with most stocks trading lower following poor economic indicators from Europe and China.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed 0.8 percent lower while Germany's DAX fell 1.3 percent. The CAC-40 in France shed 1.6 percent.

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TOKYO _ In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo ended 0.4 percent higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up 0.2 percent, while mainland China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent.

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TOKYO _ Japan posted its first trade surplus in five months in February on more auto and electronics exports to the U.S.

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BERLIN _ The head of Germany's central bank says a plan by the country's government to balance its budget in 2016 is not ambitious enough.

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SYDNEY _ The central banks of Australia and China signed a $31 billion currency swap to support trade and investment.

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