A look at economic developments around the globe

AP News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2012 4:16 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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MADRID _ Spanish workers livid over labor reforms they see as flagrantly pro-business staged a nationwide strike and tried to bring the country to a halt by blocking traffic, closing factories and clashing with police in rowdy demonstrations.

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LONDON _ Lackluster economic data from the U.S. and China, the world's two biggest economies, and renewed concerns over Spain's debt, hurt markets at the end of an otherwise profitable quarter.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed 1.2 percent lower, Germany's DAX lost 1.8 percent and France's CAC-40 fell 1.4 percent.

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TOKYO _ In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.3 percent.

Mainland Chinese shares spiraled down amid dwindling hopes that monetary policy will be loosened to offset the economic slowdown. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.4 percent and the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 1.6 percent.

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BERLIN _ Germany's unemployment rate slipped to 7.2 percent in March thanks to a traditional springtime upturn, official figures showed.

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LONDON _ Britain's Treasury was not prepared for the financial crisis which began in 2007 and still needs to do more to retain talented staff, according to a review.

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LONDON _ Government warnings that motorists should fill up at the pump ahead of a threatened strike by British fuel tanker drivers prompted scattered outbreaks of panic buying.

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LISBON, Portugal _ The Portuguese economy will stagnate in 2013 after a steep recession this year as austerity measures attached to a $103.5 billion bailout continue to bite, the Bank of Portugal forecast.

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MILAN _ Italy has seen its 10-year borrowing costs drop to a seven-month low in a bond auction that raised $10.6 billion, as market pressure on the country continues to ease.

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WARSAW, Poland _ Poland's two governing parties agreed on a plan to raise the full retirement age to 67, though the pro-market prime minister had to accept a watered-down version of his ambitious pension overhaul to placate his junior partner.

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VIENNA _ Austria's government statistics agency says the country's budget deficit last year was at 2.6 percent _ less than expected and below the 3-percent EU limit.

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