Japan's current account surplus down 55.6 per cent in February

Japan EconomyTokyo - Japan's current account balance was cut more than in half in February compared with the same month a year ago but returned to the black after posting a deficit in January, government officials said Wednesday.

The nation's current account surplus narrowed 55.6 per cent in February to 1.12 trillion yen (11.14 billion dollars) on declining exports, the Finance Ministry said.

The trade surplus in goods and services fell 94.3 per cent from a year before to 53 billion yen.

The income surplus fell 34.1 per cent to 1.1 trillion yen, the biggest fall in almost three years.

Early Easter pain for Ireland as tough extra budget announced

Early Easter pain for Ireland as tough extra budget announced Dublin - The sufferings of Easter week began Tuesday in Ireland with the announcement of an austerity budget aimed at getting the country's finances back on track.

"We have the capacity and the will to bring this country out of this period of severe economic distress, we can work our way out of our problems," Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said as he delivered the latest financial blow to the Irish people, many of whom are still smarting from the swingeing cuts of last October's budget.

German president signs bank takeover bill into law

German president signs bank takeover bill into lawBerlin  - Germany's President Horst Koehler signed a controversial bill into law Tuesday enabling the state to seize control of troubled mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE).

The measure, described as a last resort to stabilize the German financial market, marks the first time in modern-day Germany that bank shareholders face possible expropriation.

The approval followed adoption by both chambers of the German federal parliament and comes after the government took an 8.7-per- cent stake in the shaky lender as a first step to gaining full control.

WTO calls for further liberalization in Europe for recovery

WTO calls for further liberalization in Europe for recovery Geneva  - The European Communities should further liberalize its services and agricultural sector to achieve a robust recovery from the downturn leading to sustained economic growth, the World Trade Organization said in a report Monday.

Liberalization of services should be done at both the internal EC level and with third countries. The WTO secretariat, in its trade policy review, also said the EC should reduce tariffs on agricultural imports and subsidies on exports.

This would advance the full establishment of the EC internal market, the WTO said.

Latin America bracing for 3 million new unemployed

Latin America bracing for 3 million new unemployedSantiago  - The ongoing world economic crisis could cause another 3 million people to lose their jobs in Latin America's urban areas alone, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said Friday.

It could also add another 10 to 15 million people to the poverty rolls, which already include 190 million people across Latin America.

The problem is projected to persist until late 2010, an ECLAC official, Jurgen Weller, told German Press Agency dpa.

Corruption cases soar in Hong Kong as economy suffers

Hong KongHong Kong - Financial corruption in Hong Kong has rocketed in the first three months of 2009 as the city's economy has deteriorated, officials said Friday.

Corruption cases in the financial and insurance sectors surged 46 per cent in the first quarter, contributing to a
23-per-cent overall rise in corruption.

There were 811 cases reported to the city's Independent Commission Against Corruption between January and March, compared to 659 cases in the same period in 2008.