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Italy asks EU for more time to meet deficit target

Italy on Thursday asked the European Union to push back a deadline for cutting its public deficit to 2016, days after France reportedly tried and failed to get another extension. Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said record unemployment and weak growth -- exasperated by measures to pay tens of billions of euros of overdue arrears to companies -- were making it difficult to cut Italy's towering debt. "Despite the positive signs, the economic recovery is still fragile and the situation in the job market is still difficult," he told parliament.

Croatia sees no 2014 growth under new deficit cutting plan

EU's newest member Croatia on Thursday announced new measures to bring its deficit target in line with Brussels demands but warned they could hamper already anaemic economic growth. Finance Minister Slavko Linic said the new measures, including higher taxes on petrol and telecoms, should cut the country's budget deficit by 0.4 percentage points to 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). But he warned that they could stifle growth, adding that Zagreb now expect the country's economy to stagnate again this year after cutting its previous 0.2 percent forecast.

Gov't says no additional spending in 2015 without secured funding

SEJONG, April 15 (Yonhap) -- All government offices will be required to first secure means of financing their projects before increasing their spending next year, the finance ministry said Tuesday, a move aimed at striking a fiscal balance by 2017. "The government seeks to encourage each government ministry to restructure and reprioritize their spending by further strengthening the general rule that there will be no additional spending without a means to finance such spending," the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said.

Greece to issue more bonds after sale success

Greece will issue more bonds after last week's successful five-year debt sale that ended a four-year drought, the head of the debt agency said on Sunday. "The bond sale was just the first step," Stelios Papadopoulos, head of the public debt management agency (PDMA) told Kathimerini daily. Greece on Thursday raised 3.0 billion euros ($4.2 billion) at under 5.0 percent interest, a move welcomed by its EU-IMF creditors.

Gov't pours 14 tln won into covering pension funds deficit over past 5 years

SEJONG, April 13 (Yonhap) -- The government has poured almost 14 trillion won (US$13.5 billion) into the pension funds for public servants and soldiers over the last five years to cover their deficit, data showed Sunday. The government pumped a combined 13.9 trillion won to plug losses by the pension funds from 2009-2013, according to the finance ministry, and around 3.8 trillion won may go to covering the two pension funds' deficit this year, up from 3.3 trillion won tallied for last year.

France, Italy not in same boat by EU budget rules: Eurogroup head

By Jan Strupczewski WASHINGTON (Reuters) - France and Italy will get different treatment under European Union budget rules, because the situation of their public finances is different, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said on Friday. Under EU rules, governments must keep budget deficits below 3 percent of gross domestic product and reduce public debt below 60 percent of GDP or face disciplinary action.

Bond market return shows 'renewed confidence' in Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during a visit to Athens that Greece's buoyant return to the international bond markets this week showed the world's "renewed confidence" in the crisis-hit country. "I'm delighted, this exit is proof of renewed confidence in Greece," Merkel told a press conference. "We'll continue to support Greece and the Greek people... on the right path," she added, a day after Athens ended a four-year exile from world bond markets with a better-than-expected five-year debt issue that raised 3.0 billion euros ($4.2 billion).

Fitch upgrades Portugal's outlook to 'positive'

Ratings agency Fitch on Friday upgraded its outlook for Portugal to "positive" and maintained the country's credit rating at BB+. Fitch justified its move by citing budgetary efforts agreed by Lisbon as well as the overall recovering economy of the country three years after its bailout. "Portugal is making good progress in reducing its budget deficit," the ratings agency said in a statement. The economy took a big step towards emerging from its debt bailout and regaining investor confidence late last month by beating its budget target by a wide margin.

Scottish independence would delay UK return to triple-A status: Fitch

By David Milliken LONDON (Reuters) - The United Kingdom would need longer to recover the triple-A debt rating it lost last year if Scotland votes for independence in September, ratings agency Fitch said on Thursday. Fitch said London's promise to honor all existing United Kingdom debt in the event of independence and seek recompense from the new Edinburgh government would raise the United Kingdom's debt burden as a share of gross domestic product by almost 10 percentage points.

Bank of England keeps key rate at 0.5 per cent, stimulus program on hold as economy recovers

LONDON - Bank of England policymakers have kept interest rates steady and declined to pump more money into Britain's economy amid signals of recovery. The Monetary Policy Committee kept the benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.5 per cent and voted to not increase the monetary stimulus program. The bank has pumped 375 billion pounds ($600 billion) into the economy since January 2009 through its bond-buying program. The decision announced Thursday was widely expected.
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