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Portugal's clean bailout exit more likely after Greek bond success: Eurogroup head

By Jan Strupczewski WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Greece's success in tapping markets on Thursday raise the chances that Portugal will not need a precautionary credit line when it exits the euro zone bailout in mid-May, the head of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said on Friday. Athens, which had been locked out of capital markets for four years and was bailed out with 240 billion euros ($333 billion) as its economy faltered, issued a bond on Thursday and received bids seven times the amount on offer.

Asian shares slip after Wall St rout

Asia's markets fell on Friday following hefty plunges on Wall Street as US technology stocks suffered another sell-off, while China released data showing inflation picked up in March but was still below forecasts. Tokyo led the decline, plunging 2.38 percent, or 340.07 points, to 13,960.05 -- its lowest close in six months, while Seoul lost 0.56 percent, or 11.17 points, to 1,997.44 and Sydney shed 0.95 percent, or 52.15 points, to 5,428.6.

Asian shares slip after Wall St rout

Asia's markets fell on Friday following hefty plunges on Wall Street as US technology stocks suffered another sell-off, while China released data showing inflation picked up in March but was still below forecasts. Tokyo led the decline, plunging 2.38 percent, or 340.07 points, to 13,960.05 -- its lowest close in six months. Seoul lost 0.56 percent, or 11.17 points, to 1,997.44 and Sydney shed 0.95 percent, or 52.15 points, to 5,428.6.

German inflation hits three-year low in March

The rate of inflation in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, fell to its lowest level in more than three years in March, official final data showed on Friday. The cost of living rose by 1.0 percent on a 12-month basis this month, down from 1.2 percent in February, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement. The last time inflation in Europe's biggest economy was lower was in June 2010.

Asian shares slip after Wall St rout

Asia's markets fell on Friday following hefty plunges on Wall Street as US technology stocks suffered another sell-off, while China released data showing inflation picked up in March but was still below forecasts. Tokyo sank 2.31 percent by the break, Hong Kong lost 0.61 percent, Shanghai was 0.18 percent lower, Sydney shed 0.91 percent and Seoul was down 0.77 percent. The Nasdaq suffered another slump on Thursday on lingering fears that high-flying technology stocks like Facebook and Netflix may be overvalued.

France to stick to 3 percent budget deficit target for 2015: minister

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - France will stick to the European Union deadline to reduce its budget deficit below 3 percent by the end of 2015, French Finance Minister Michael Sapin told a news briefing on Thursday. The statement marks a change from his call last week for negotiations on the "rhythm" of reducing the deficit, which stood at 4.3 percent of national output last year, to below the EU treaty limit of 3 percent.

Eurozone's only female central banker takes office in Cyprus

Cypriot Chrystalla Georghadji became the eurozone's only woman central bank chief Thursday, facing the daunting task of guiding her country's banks out of a crisis that nearly sank the economy last year. The 58-year-old former auditor general replaces Panicos Demetriades, who resigned under fire last month. President Nicos Anastasiades, speaking at her investiture, said "it is obvious that in these difficult times... your contribution to restore confidence in the financial sector is critical... to return to growth."

Economists up German growth forecast this year to 1.9 per cent, see 2 per cent expansion in 2015

BERLIN - A group of leading German economic think tanks has raised slightly its forecast for growth this year to 1.9 per cent and is predicting a further improvement to 2 per cent in 2015. The forecast issued Thursday compared with October's prediction of 1.8 per cent growth by the four institutes, an outlook that is closely watched in Germany. Europe's biggest economy grew by only 0.4 per cent last year but has been showing signs of accelerating.

Greece faces long road to recovery, despite financial rebound

By Karolina Tagaris PIRAEUS, Greece (Reuters) - Nikos Mavrikos has fired half of his employees since 2010 as the Greek economy imploded, leaving his ship supply business on the verge of collapse. February marked a turning point, however: Mavrikos made a hire, his first in four years. "People are slowly starting to trust Greece again," says Mavrikos, who hopes to take on even more employees soon at his family-owned business.

Eurozone set for 1.2% growth, deflation threatens

The eurozone economy is recovering towards 1.2-percent growth this year, the IMF said in an upgraded forecast on Tuesday but renewed pressure on the European Central Bank to cut interest rates to counter deflation dangers. Warning that recovery in the 18 eurozone members was struggling up a slippery slope, the IMF raised the outlook for this year from 1.0 percent, and forecast 1.5-percent growth next year and in the medium term. hd/rl
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