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CEE currencies seen firming after short-term retreat

By Sandor Peto BUDAPEST, April 2 - Central Europe's economic recovery should strengthen the region's main currencies by about 2 percent against the euro in the next 12 months, a monthly Reuters poll of analysts showed on Wednesday.

Asian shares climb on strong manufacturing reports

Asian markets enjoyed a healthy rally on Wednesday following positive manufacturing data from the United States and Europe, while Tokyo was also boosted as the dollar pushed towards the 104-yen level. Traders were given a strong lead from New York, where the S&P 500 closed at another record high, while attention turns to the release Friday of a closely watched US jobs report.

Irish official unemployment falls further

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in eurozone-nation Ireland fell for the 21st month running in March, and to the lowest rate since early 2009, official data showed on Wednesday. The standardised unemployment rate was 11.8 percent in March down from 11.9 percent in February, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in a statement. At 11.8 percent, March's rate is the lowest since April 2009, when Irish unemployment came in at 11.5 percent.

Asian shares climb on strong manufacturing reports

Asian markets enjoyed a healthy rally on Wednesday following positive manufacturing data from the United States and Europe, while Tokyo was also boosted as the dollar pushed towards the 104-yen level. Traders were given a strong lead from New York, where the S&P 500 closed at another record high, while attention turns to the release Friday of a closely watched US jobs report.

Dollar up in Asia on manufacturing data

The dollar extended its gains against the yen in Asia Wednesday after upbeat manufacturing data from the United States and Europe boosted sentiment ahead of key US jobs figures this week. In Tokyo midday trading, the greenback fetched 103.83 yen, from 103.66 yen in New York Tuesday. "The 104 yen mark is well in sight within today, despite caution ahead of US jobs report due on Friday," a senior dealer at a Japanese bank told Dow Jones Newswires. The euro rose to 143.30 yen from 142.98 yen, while also edged up to $1.3801 from $1.3793.

EU calls on France, Greece to stick to reforms

Eurozone officials urged France's incoming government on Tuesday to stick to reform pledges, and Greece to capitalise on its austerity sacrifices in return for a long-delayed 6.3-billion-euro slice of bailout cash. The loan disbursal announced at a two-day meeting of European finance ministers, after seven months of tough talks between Greece and its EU-IMF creditors, will enable Athens to repay maturing debt in May. And Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras later said a planned return to financial markets would happen earlier than originally announced.

France must deliver on budget consolidation commitments: Eurogroup head

ATHENS (Reuters) - France must observe the European Union deadline of 2015 for bringing down its budget deficit below the ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday.

France must observe EU budget rules, commitments: officials

ATHENS (Reuters) - France has not asked European Union institutions for more time to bring down its budget deficit below the European Union ceiling of 3 percent but must observe the already extended deadline of 2015, top euro zone officials said on Tuesday.

EU's Rehn worried about possibility of prolonged low euro zone inflation

ATHENS (Reuters) - A prolonged period of low inflation in the euro zone would negatively affect the rebalancing of the economy, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday. Preliminary data showed on Monday that consumer price growth slowed further in March to 0.5 percent year-on-year from 0.7 percent in February, increasing the risks of deflation. The European Central Bank, which meets on interest rates on Thursday, wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2 percent over the medium term.

Euro zone unemployment rate stable in February

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Unemployment in the euro zone declined slightly in February, although the rate remained at 11.9 percent after downward revisions of the past few months, the European statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday. Eurostat said in a statement that 18.97 million people in the 18-country euro zone were unemployed in February, a decrease of about 35,000 from last month.
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