A look at economic developments around the world

By: By The Associated Press
By: By The Associated Press

A look at economic developments and stock-market activity around the world Thursday:

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BERLIN - German industrial orders fell by another 6.9 percent in December, with slumping demand from other European countries leading the decline, government figures showed. The month-on-month fall was the latest in a string of such declines, which have highlighted the implications for the German economy - Europe's biggest - of a global fall in demand for exports ranging from cars to chemicals as the financial crisis bites. The December decline compared with a 5.3 percent fall in industrial orders the previous month.

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LONDON - World stocks were mixed as more bad news on the U.S. economy piled up but some companies - including Wal-Mart - produced better-than-expected results. A massive jump in jobless claims and another round of weak retail sales figures in the world's largest economy weighed on markets that had already opened lower. But stronger financial stocks and some U.S. earnings helped strengthen European stocks late in the day. Britain's FTSE 100 index closed up 0.01 percent at 4,228.93 and last-minute gains in Frankfurt also helped push Germany's DAX into positive territory. It finished 0.4 percent up at 4,510.49. France's CAC 40 ended down 0.1 percent at 3,066.29.

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SANTIAGO, Chile - Chilean officials say the nation's economy expanded by a modest 0.5 percent in December over the same month a year earlier. The central bank says it will report the annual 2008 growth figure on March 23. Preliminary estimates put the figure at 3.5 percent, down from 5.1 percent in 2007. Growth slowed to 3.7 percent in the 12 months through November from 4.4 percent in the like period of 2007.

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KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's state-owned television says the Cabinet has approved a stimulus package to help the economy weather the global financial crisis. The government has released few details on the much-awaited plan, and the brief television announcement did not elaborate. But officials have said it would help to prop up troubled banks and investment companies. The program needs to be approved by the parliament of this small oil-rich state in the Gulf. The package was proposed by a government task force to help the country grapple with fallout from the global meltdown and low oil prices.

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HONG KONG - Hong Kong's stock index bucked the regional trend to rise almost 1 percent, lifted by growing optimism about China's economic outlook. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 115.01 points, or 0.9 percent, to 13,178.90, but closed well off its highs.

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SHANGHAI - Chinese shares fell, snapping a three-day rally that had been spurred by reports suggesting a nascent economic recovery, with banks and textiles dropping while steel stocks rose on lower ore prices. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index declined by 0.5 percent, or 9.73 points, to close at 2098.02. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China's second exchange shed 1.3 percent to 644.66.

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TOKYO - Japanese shares fell as jittery investors absorbed gloomy earnings and braced for the next report on the U.S. jobs market. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 89.29 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,949.65. The broader Topix edged down 0.8 percent to 786.41.

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PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a grilling on national television over his handling of the economy following nationwide strikes sparked by fears of job layoffs. Polls showed that confidence in the energetic Sarkozy is falling amid frustration over job cuts and taxpayer concerns that money used to bail out the financial sector is simply lining executive pockets.

Nationwide strikes and protests last week focused on fears over rising unemployment, and the government is worried that the one-day action could turn into a broader and protracted walkout.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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