Economic Developments Around The Globe

By The Associated Press

A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Thursday:
BRUSSELS — Half the economies in the 17-nation eurozone are forecast to shrink this year, raising concerns that government austerity programs introduced to combat unsustainable debt levels are holding back growth.
BERLIN — German business confidence has risen for the fourth consecutive month as Europe’s biggest economy continues to outperform much of the rest of the debt-hobbled continent, a closely watched survey showed.
BRUSSELS — The European Union is preparing regulations that will shut out Iran’s banks from a major financial clearinghouse used by virtually every country in the world, a senior official said.
LONDON — Markets were subdued as Greece pressed ahead with reforms demanded by its creditors in exchange for crucial bailout cash and as tensions rose in the Persian Gulf over Iran’s nuclear program. Germany’s DAX fell 0.5 percent while the CAC-40 in France was flat. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares recovered from earlier losses to end 0.4 percent higher.
TOKYO — In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi lost 1 percent. But Japan’s 225 Nikkei added 0.4 percent, its highest finish since Aug. 4, as the dollar traded near a seven-month high against the yen. That’s a positive sign for Japan’s powerhouse exporters, which have struggled amid a prolonged period of strength in the yen. In mainland China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent, its highest close in three months. The Shenzhen Composite Index advanced 0.5 percent.
ATHENS, Greece — The Greek Parliament approved a massive bond swap that would wipe $142 billion off the country’s privately-held debt, as new projections showed the economy will suffer the worst contraction in Europe this year.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s jobless rate rose to 13.2 percent in January from 12.5 percent the previous month, according to government statistics.

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