AFP World Economic News Summary

The top world economic stories on Friday:


WASHINGTON: The US trade deficit shrank more than expected in December, to $38.5 billion, as imports dropped sharply, Commerce Department data showed.


Brussels: EU leaders appeared poised to cut the bloc's budget for the first time in its six-decade history, with a tentative agreement to trim spending by three percent over the rest of the decade, diplomats said.


TOKYO: Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso said the yen's recent tumble against the dollar was something unexpected, a comment which immediately led to a rally in the Japanese unit.


FRANKFURT: Germany's trade surplus hit a five-year high in 2012 to reach the second-highest level ever on booming exports, but momentum slowed sharply towards the end of the year, official data showed.


MOSCOW: Russia's trade surplus creeped up 0.6 percent to $212.2 billion (158 billion euros) in 2012, largely due to energy exports, according to data published by the customs service.


OSLO: Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle notched up the pressure on Boeing after the US aerospace giant informed it that its deliveries of the beleaguered 787 Dreamliner could be delayed.


LAGOS: US oil giant ExxonMobil's Nigerian subsidiary said it might not meet contractual obligations on exports from the west African country owing to pipeline repairs.


SHANGHAI: Chinese banks more than doubled their lending in January from December, official data showed as the government seeks to boost economic growth after it fell to a 13-year low last year.


MADRID: US firm Las Vegas Sands said that it will go ahead with the construction of a vast casino project near Madrid which could create up to 200,000 jobs, the Madrid regional government said.


BEIJING: China's stated aim to narrow the income gulf between its sports-car driving elite and vast numbers who still live in poverty will need radical political and economic changes to work, economists say.