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Rising food, housing costs push up U.S. inflation

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. consumer prices firmed a bit in March, as food and housing rental costs rose in a possible sign that a disinflationary trend had run its course. The increase should allay concerns among some Federal Reserve officials that inflation was running too low, although the rise was mild enough to suggest the central bank could keep benchmark interest rates near zero for quite some time.

European parliament adopts financial markets rules

The European Parliament adopted new rules Tuesday to tighten the regulation of financial markets in order to stop rampant speculation, including on foodstuffs. The European Union's Financial Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier first pushed for the new rules, known as MiFID II, in 2011 at the height of the eurozone debt crisis and in the wake of the global economic meltdown.

Yellen says rules might need to be strengthened further to bolster largest banks

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the largest U.S. banks might need to hold additional capital to withstand periods of financial stress. Yellen told a banking conference in Atlanta that current rules on how much capital banks must hold to protect against losses don't address all threats. She said the Fed's staff is considering what further measures might be needed.

UK inflation hits new four-year low, house prices continue rise

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa and David Milliken LONDON (Reuters) - British inflation fell to its lowest in over four years in March, easing pressure on living standards and raising the prospect that prices may now be rising by less than wages for the first time in years. The sharp decline in Britons' living standards since the financial crisis - due to a mix of tax rises, high inflation and meager wage growth - has become a key political battle ground, a year before national elections.

Greece's short-term debt rates drop after bond issue

Greece's short-term borrowing costs tumbled on Tuesday, days after the crisis-hit country returned to medium-term international bond markets for the first time for four years. Athens paid 2.75 percent interest on 1.625 billion euros ($2.24 billion) on its latest issue of three-month treasuries, according to its public debt management agency (PDMA). That was the first time the yield on Greece's debt has fallen below 3.0 percent since the start of the financial crisis, which plunged the country into six years of crippling recession.

US inflation strengthens in March

US consumer prices rose in March driven by surges in the cost of food, housing and other services, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday. The consumer price index was up 0.2 percent over February, taking the 12-month gain to 1.5 percent. Energy prices fell slightly, while food prices rose 0.5 percent, shelter costs jumped 2.7 percent and health care service costs gained 2.4 percent. Stripped of the volatile food and energy costs, core CPI rose 0.2 percent as well. The core index was up 1.7 percent for the 12 months to March.

Upturn in German economy, but Ukraine clouds outlook

The German economy, Europe's biggest, is currently in the middle of a "solid upturn", the government said Tuesday, even if concerns about the fallout from Ukraine are souring investor confidence. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that economic growth "is on a broad and stable footing," as he predicted that gross domestic product (GDP) growth would accelerate to 1.8 percent this year and 2.0 percent next year compared with a meagre 0.4 percent in 2013. "The German economy is in a solid upturn," Gabriel insisted.

EU lawmakers complete set of biggest financial reforms since euro introduction

BRUSSELS - The European Union's Parliament on Tuesday completed the biggest overhaul of the bloc's financial system since the introduction of the euro currency, passing laws to minimize the risk and cost posed by failing banks. Lawmakers signed off on the creation of a European authority with the power to unwind or restructure failing banks, as well as a system that will see banks' creditors — not governments — take losses first when lenders fail. The approval came after months of tough negotiations between national governments and the parliament.

Charity urges Spain to boost fight against child poverty

The charity Save the Children launched a petition Tuesday urging Spain to do more for deprived children in the crisis-hit country, where one in three minors lives at risk of poverty. "The situation is urgent and it requires urgent measures," the director of the Spanish branch of the organisation, Andres Conde, told a news conference. The petition calls on the government to extend child benefit payments to all families living below the poverty line, increase the amount that is paid and move to monthly instead of twice-yearly payments.

US consumer prices up slightly in March; cheaper gasoline blunts impact of higher food costs

WASHINGTON - Lower U.S. gasoline prices kept consumer inflation in check last month, helping to offset higher costs for food and clothing. The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index rose 0.2 per cent in March, after scant 0.1 per cent increases in the previous two months. Prices have risen just 1.5 per cent year over year. That remains well below the Federal Reserve's 2 per cent target for inflation. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices increased 0.2 per cent in March and 1.7 per cent in the past year.
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