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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LONDON - Violent clashes in Egypt between pro- and anti-government demonstrators kept financial markets on edge, while the euro slid after the European Central Bank's president said high inflation would prove to be only temporary.

Though the market impact of Egypt's turmoil has diminished as the week progressed, it continues to fuel uncertainty.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent while the CAC-40 in France ended 0.7 percent lower.

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BERLIN - Inflationary pressures in the 17-nation eurozone remain in check despite a spike in prices on the back of higher energy and commodity costs, the European Central Bank's president said - an assessment that was less hawkish than many expected and prompted the euro to fall sharply.

Jean-Claude Trichet's comments came after the bank's governing council decided unanimously to leave its main interest rate unchanged at 1 percent for the 21st consecutive month.

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TOKYO - Trading in Asia was muted due to the Lunar New Year holidays with markets closed in South Korea, Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Nikkei 225 stock average closed 0.3 percent lower while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5 percent.

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ROME - A U.N. agency said world food prices have reached a historic peak, but good harvests are for now forestalling the kind of food emergency felt in many places in 2008.

Rising food prices have been among the triggers for protests in Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere.

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LONDON - Fitch Ratings agency downgraded Egypt's debt grade by one notch to BB from BB plus, citing the violent protests and their consequences for the economy and public finances.

Fitch's downgrade is the third in as many days for Egypt, where anti-government protesters seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak have battled pro-government forces. Moody's Investor Services and Standard & Poor's also cut Egypt's creditworthiness this week.

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MADRID - Spain successfully raised 3.5 billion euros ($4.83 billion) at a debt auction, with lower interest rates reflecting easing market fears over the country's ability to manage its debt.

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BERLIN - Deutsche Bank AG backed an ambitious 2011 earnings target after revenue rose sharply last year. Its 2010 earnings declined by more than half, however, as the bank absorbed the cost of buying retail lender Deutsche Postbank and other acquisitions.

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LONDON - Retail sales in the 16 countries that used the euro in December unexpectedly fell. Consumers remain reluctant to spend amid concerns about Europe's debt crisis and high unemployment.

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MADRID - Profit at Spain's Santander bank fell 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter as losses in Europe, where the debt crisis hammered markets, offset gains in emerging markets.

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TOKYO - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan's biggest bank, said its nine-month profit more than doubled as the costs of shouldering bad loans declined.

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DUBLIN - The Supreme Court dealt a surprise blow to Ireland's "bad bank," ruling it illegally seized control of a property tycoon's 2.1 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in debts.

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