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France freezes benefits in controversial cuts drive

France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday unveiled a politically risky freeze in state benefits as part of a plan to cut government spending by 50 billion euros ($70 billion). The Socialist government has pledged to make the savings over the course of three years (2015-17) in order to fund a programme of tax cuts for individuals and companies aimed at reviving a flagging economy and reducing unemployment from record levels.

France freezes benefits in cuts drive

France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday announced a freeze in state pensions and other benefits as part of a plan to cut government spending by 50 billion euros ($70 billion). The Socialist government has pledged to make the cuts over the course of three years (2015-17) in order to fund tax cuts for individuals and companies aimed at reviving a flagging economy and reducing unemployment from record levels.

Independent Scotland would face immediate $38.52 billion debt: report

(Reuters) - An independent Scotland would face an immediate debt repayment of 23 billion pounds ($38.52 billion) to the UK Treasury, British media reported, citing a leading economics research body's estimate.

Investors add longer-dated Treasuries after U.S. jobs data: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More investors raised their holdings of longer-dated Treasuries after U.S. job growth missed forecasts in March, reducing expectations the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in the first half of 2015, according to a survey released on Tuesday by J.P. Morgan Securities. The share of investors who said their holdings of longer-dated U.S. government debt were greater than their holdings of portfolio benchmarks jumped to 25 percent from 13 percent a week earlier, J.P. Morgan Securities said.

South Korea 2013 fiscal deficit 1.5 percent of GDP vs. 1.3 percent in 2012

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Tuesday that it ran a bigger fiscal deficit in 2013 than in the previous year on an extra budget passed last year that resulted in more debt being issued. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in a statement the government ran a fiscal deficit of 1.5 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) compared with a revised 1.3 percent figure for 2012.

S. Korea's national debt rises to 1,117 tln won

SEJONG, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's national debt rose to about 1,117 trillion won (US$1.06 trillion) in 2013 mainly due to increased pension liabilities, the finance ministry said Tuesday. According to a settlement of accounts for last year's budget compiled by the ministry and approved by the Cabinet, South Korea's national debt including the central government's debt and provisions came to 1,117.3 trillion won, up from 902.1 trillion won tallied a year earlier. This represents 78.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Leaving buyers club could be Fed's next tricky task

By Ann Saphir and Jonathan Spicer SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - With the wind-down of the Federal Reserve's massive bond buying under way, policymakers are beginning to discuss the next stage - when to allow the U.S. central bank's swollen balance sheet to shrink. If the Fed sticks to a plan laid out in June 2011, a decision to stop reinvesting bond proceeds would precede any increase in interest rates and mark the beginning of the Fed's first tightening cycle since 2004-2006.

Debt-to-GDP ratio hits 265 pct in 2013

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- Combined debt held by households, companies and the government was almost three times larger than the size of the South Korean economy last year, data showed Tuesday. As of end-2013, debts held by economic agents amounted to 3,783,9 trillion won (US$3.58 trillion), accounting for 264.9 percent against the nominal gross domestic product (GDP). It compared with 262.5 percent tallied in 2012.

Portugal beats budget targets on path to exiting bailout

Portugal took a big step towards emerging from its debt bailout and regaining investor confidence on Monday by beating its budget target by a wide margin. Portugal, still struggling to overcome its debt crisis, to pull away from recession and overcome public anger at tough austerity measures, turned in a budget overshoot equivalent to 4.9 percent of output last year. That marked a huge reduction from a public deficit of 6.4 percent in 2012, official data showed on Monday.

French deficit, public debt in 2013 worse than expected

French public deficit and debt in 2013 were higher than previous government estimates, official data showed on Monday, dealing a fresh blow to President Francois Hollande a day after disastrous local polls. French public deficit stood at 4.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with 4.9 percent the previous year, according to data released by the INSEE statistics agency. Previous government estimates said it would stand at 4.1 percent.
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