A look at economic developments around the globe

Europe got further evidence that its unexpectedly strong economic recovery is slowing, with the news that Germany investor confidence fell sharply in September and industrial production in the eurozone unexpectedly stagnated during July.The twin pieces of economic data have reinforced the view...

Europe got further evidence that its unexpectedly strong economic recovery is slowing, with the news that Germany investor confidence fell sharply in September and industrial production in the eurozone unexpectedly stagnated during July.

The twin pieces of economic data have reinforced the view that the 16-nation eurozone economy, which grew by a quarterly rate of 1 percent in the second quarter of the year — equivalent to an annualized rate of over 4 percent — is coming off the boil in the wake of faltering economic growth in the U.S.

Better-than-expected retail sales data in the U.S. gave a bit of support to stocks in Europe, however, and Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent, the CAC-40 in France ended 0.2 percent higher while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended almost unchanged.

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SHANGHAI — China's currency advanced to a fresh high against the U.S. dollar for the third straight trading day as U.S. lawmakers prepared for hearings this week on Beijing's foreign exchange policies.

China's leaders routinely shrug off complaints that the tightly regulated yuan is undervalued, giving the country's exporters an artificial advantage over U.S. manufacturers. But the crescendo of criticism over the issue in Washington as November elections approach appears to be encouraging Beijing to move a bit faster on allowing the yuan to gain in value.

Shanghai's benchmark stock index eked out a marginal increase of less than 0.1 percent.

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VIENNA — OPEC is "comfortable" with current oil prices and does not want to "rock the boat" as the world recovers from its worst recession in decades, the group's secretary general said, while acknowledging that the group faces abundant challenges in a rapidly changing market.

The assurance by Abdalla El-Badri reflects the sense of caution that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as it looks to balance an oil market still feeling the effects of the global economic meltdown.

El-Badri said that a change both in prices and production quotas this year depends on "circumstances." But he declined to comment directly on what OPEC members would do at their meeting a month from now. The group has left its output quotas unchanged since December 2008.

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TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan may have fended off a challenge from a powerful politician in his own party, but now he faces the more daunting task of reviving an economy that has sputtered under five premiers over the past four years.

Kan, who took office just three months ago, vowed to use the victory over Ichiro Ozawa to push ahead with efforts to cap spending, create jobs and build unity within the often fractious ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

Experts said that Kan must now prove himself capable of tackling several serious challenges including diplomatic friction with China and the United States, an emboldened opposition and a fast-rising yen that is threatening to stall Japanese exports.

The yen hit a fresh 15-year high versus the dollar below 83 yen, and Japan's Nikkei closed 0.2 percent lower.

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LONDON — Higher prices for clothes and plane tickets helped keep Britain's inflation rate at 3.1 percent in August, the ninth straight month it has stayed above the official target of 2 percent.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — A union leader says more than 30,000 public sector workers in Romania will go on strike over wage cuts.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece raised euro1.17 billion ($1.5 billion) in an oversubscribed sale of 26-week treasury bills, in the first of a regular monthly debt issue as Greece tests the market's appetite for buying Greek debt.

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DUBLIN — Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook for Bank of Ireland from stable to negative, citing the weak Irish economy and heavy state supports.

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HAVANA — Cuba's communist leaders have already determined what soon-to-be-dismissed workers should do after they get pink slips in sweeping government layoffs. They detailed a plan for workers to raise rabbits, paint buildings, make bricks, collect garbage and pilot ferries across Havana's bay.

Many of the 500,000 workers tossed from state jobs into the marketplace could see their new enterprises fail within a year, officials acknowledge.

Cuba will cut the state employees by March 2011 and help them get work in the private sector, in the most sweeping reforms instituted since President Raul Castro took over from his brother in 2008.

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BERLIN — Germany's finance minister told parliament that the country's efforts to reduce the deficit, which include sharp spending cuts and taxes hikes, are necessary to avoid a repeat of the eurozone's debt crisis.

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