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IMF says Korean currency should be further appreciated

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean currency is undervalued in the range of 2 percent to 8 percent, the International Monetary Fund said in its latest report, encouraging further appreciation of the won over the medium term. The IMF report dated Thursday said the won remained moderately undervalued by as much as 8 percent, with the upper end of the range seeming more plausible given the current account surplus run.

U.S. jobless claims hover near pre-recession levels

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New applications for unemployment benefits held near their pre-recession levels last week, offering further evidence of the economy's underlying strength. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday. They stayed close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.

ECB hardliner Weidmann comes in from the cold as deflation threatens

By Paul Carrel FRANKFURT (Reuters) - As recently as last November, Jens Weidmann steadfastly opposed any move by the European Central Bank to print money to buy assets and buoy the euro zone economy. No longer. The Bundesbank chief, known for his hardline stances at the ECB and as head of the German central bank, is now ready to support such quantitative easing (QE) if he and his ECB colleagues deem it necessary.

China's cooling property market a risk to economic growth

By Xiaoyi Shao and Jonathan Standing BEIJING (Reuters) - China's property market could threaten Beijing's plan to manage a slowdown in growth, as evidence mounts of a rapid cooling in what had been one of the few strong spots in the world's second-largest economy. So far, the economic story is going to script, with growth of 7.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. While the slowest pace in 18 months, it was just ahead of market expectations and seemed to soothe fears of a sharp downturn.

A star abroad, India central bank boss riles bond traders at home

By Neha Dasgupta MUMBAI (Reuters) - Since taking the helm of India's central bank, Raghuram Rajan's agenda to reform markets has put the noses of Mumbai bond traders firmly out of joint by upending practices that provided them with a relatively secure rate of return.

BOJ upholds upbeat regional economic views, but wary of tax hike impact

The Bank of Japan kept intact Thursday its upbeat assessment of the country's nine regional economies, noting their economies are on a "recovery" path on the back of improvement in employment and income circumstances. But all nine regions said their economies have started to be affected by the April 1 consumption tax hike -- the first in 17 years -- the central bank said in its quarterly "Sakura Report" on regional economies released after a meeting of the BOJ's branch managers.

Japan's March consumer confidence down to lowest in 2.5 yrs

Japan's consumer confidence deteriorated in March to the lowest level since August 2011, the government said Thursday, indicating mounting concern that the consumption tax hike in April will drag down the nation's economy. The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households made up of two or more people fell 1.0 point from the previous month to 37.5, down for the fourth straight month, the Cabinet Office said. Readings below 50 indicate pessimists outnumber optimists.

Weak U.S. prices, not inflation, the threat now: Fed's Yellen

By Jonathan Spicer NEW YORK (Reuters) - Persistently low inflation poses a more immediate threat to the U.S. economy than rising prices, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday, stressing that the U.S. central bank would be delivering policy stimulus for some time to come.

China eases with reserve cut for rural banks

China will cut the amount of funds that rural banks must keep in reserve, state media said, in a small easing of monetary policy by the government as it tries to provide support to the slowing economy. The powerful State Council, China's cabinet, said it would allow a cut in the reserve requirements for some county-level commercial banks and cooperative banks in rural areas, the official Xinhua news agency said late Wednesday, but gave no details.

Senate Democrats seek minimum wage boost to $10.10, but some workers would still be exempted

WASHINGTON - Some low-paid workers won't benefit even if a long-shot Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage becomes law. More than a dozen categories of jobs are exempt from the minimum, currently $7.25 an hour. Those exclusions, rooted in labour law history, run from some workers with disabilities to crews on fishing ships to casual baby sitters.
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